SIGN MY STUFF? — Kara Lynn Joyce signed memorabilia for the participants, after the swim clinic.
SPRINGVILLE — Fitter & Faster Swim Tour presented by SwimOutlet.com, visited the Springville-Griffith Institute High School on Aug. 3 and 4 and brought along Olympian swimmer Kara Lynn Joyce.
Joyce is a three-time Olympian, taking part in the last three Olympic Games in 2004, 2008 and 2012. She is a four-time Olympic silver medalist. She won the silver medal twice, in the 2004 Athens games, and then took home two more silver medals, in the 2008 games in Beijing.
Joyce brought her advanced swimming knowledge and years of experience to the pool, in order to teach the kids what it takes to become a successful swimmer.
SPEAK FROM THE HEART — Kara Lynn Joyce addresses the crowd, during the clinic.
“I love participating in events like this,” Joyce said. “It takes me back to when I was younger and went to similar events. It’s always nice to give back and help kids who are interested in swimming, because this is where we all began. I try to take part in a couple of these events, every month. I hope I can have a positive impact on these kids, as they move forward with their swimming journeys.”
The event began with each child having the opportunity to be in a photo with Joyce and her silver medals. Joyce said that she hopes that the kids’ seeing the medals will be a driving force toward their future success, in the pool.
MEDAL WINNERS — Two clinic participants pose with the swimmer and her Olympic medals.
“I hope that seeing the medals impacts them tremendously,” said the swimmer. “I had the opportunity to meet some Olympians, when I was a child, and it had a very positive influence on my career. Just seeing the medals was surreal for me and I used that as motivation, going forward. If I can have even a fraction of that impact on these kids, then I will be happy, because I know how important it was for me.”
The event was put together by Duane Boberg and Peggy Piatek. Boberg, the president of SWAT, credits Piatek and the Springville Education Foundation for the construction of the event. “Peggy did a lot of work, to make this event possible,” Boberg said.
“She was instrumental in setting up all of the little things that went into this. She deserves a lot of credit for all of her hard work and time she put towards this process. Also, a lot of credit should go out to the Springville Education Foundation. They took care of the renting of the school, for both days of the event, and they also took care of the hotel accommodations for all of the guests.”
The event was divided into two sessions. Aug. 3 was for children younger than 11 and Aug. 4 was for children ages 12 and older.
Joyce gathered the kids around the pool to stretch, before they entered the water, in order to better prepare them for the practice drills she had planned for the day. The stretching routine also helped the swimmers learn what it takes to get their bodies ready for practice and competition, at a high level. Once they entered the pool, Joyce began leading the kids through a series of drills, that focused on improving the swimmer’s technique, body positioning and alignment. She told the kids about the importance of having fun and enjoying the sport of swimming, a belief that Boberg said he also agrees with.
“They have to enjoy it, or there is really no reason to put so much time into the process,” he said. “Have fun. Happy swimmers are fast swimmers. Unhappy swimmers are usually playing other sports.”
Once the drills portion of the event was finished, the kids got a chance to test their skills with one another, in racing contests. Different strokes were called out by the volunteers at random and races were done at a high-paced rate. This gave the kids a chance to show off what they learned from Joyce, during the training drills, earlier in the event. They also got to see Joyce attempt to break the Springville school record in the 50-freestyle.
Joyce bested the school record, as the Olympian has never been one to back down from a challenge.
Joyce, a University of Georgia graduate, has been a swimmer nearly her entire life. She took the sport on, from an early age, and success followed. In her freshman year at Georgia, Joyce won five individual NCAA Championships and helped the Bulldogs to their third, consecutive national runner-up finish. She is the first woman in history to sweep the 50, 100 and 200-meter NCAA titles. She finished her college career as a nine-time NCAA Individual Champion, and was a world champion in the 800-free relay in 2011. Joyce said that, although she has been very successful at every level of swimming she has competed, that doesn’t mean that it’s all come easy to her.
“There is a lot of hard work and passion that goes into being a successful swimmer,” said Joyce. “It takes a lot of sacrifice and dedication. You have to put aside many things and focus on swimming; you really have to love swimming, to be successful at it. It also takes some luck, along the way. I’ve been surrounded by a lot of great people, throughout my life. My college coach at Georgia, Jack Bauerle, was a great influence on me. He was like a father to me, when I was at Georgia. We still talk, to this day, and I’m not sure that I would’ve had as much success, had it not been for him.”
Once the kids left the pool, Joyce headed to the hallway to sign autographs. She signed everything from water bottles to foreheads and took more photos with the kids and their signed items.
Boberg said he hopes that the kids soaked everything up from Joyce, because meeting an Olympian is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“This was a great learning experience for these kids,” said Boberg. “To get insight from a swimmer as successful as Kara Lynn is a special occasion. We hope that everyone who attended learned a lot.”
To see more photos that were taken at the event, can Fitter & Faster’s Facebook page or the group’s website, at www.fitterandfaster.com