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Thirteen years in the pool pay off, for swimmer Heidi Frank

MAKING WAVES — Heidi Frank stands with her former Springville Waves Aquatic Team coach and Springville-GI High School Assistant Principal John Baronich. Photo by Dave DeLuca.

SPRINGVILLE — Current Springville-Griffith Institute senior Heidi Frank began swimming at 5 years old.

The athlete said that she had watched her mother swim, so she thought, “Why not?” That decision began a 13-year stretch of competitive swimming, for Frank.

Her swimming career was set in motion in 2000, with the participation in the Springville Waves Aquatic Team. SWAT is a community-run group that utilizes volunteers to teach swimming, in the Springville area.

Frank was recently named the receipt of the Karl Karlson Award, which recognizes a senior who has helped perpetuate the sport of swimming and has participated in swimming in SWAT, as well as at the varsity level.

“Winning this award is very important to me,” Frank said. “Swimming is a community sport and it’s in a community, itself. The award is important, because Karl Karlson wanted kids to learn how to swim and he did from his heart. That’s what SWAT was all about and that’s how it started. I do my best to carry on what he has exemplified and stood for.”

Frank has been a member of the Lady Griffin varsity swimming and diving team at S-GI since seventh grade. She was the first seventh grader in S-GI history to break the 6-minute mark, in the 500-free.

During her swimming and diving career, Frank has competed at the Erie County Interscholastic Conference championships and sectional championships six times.

She made appearances in two individual events and two relay events. Her times ranked as some of the best times ever posted at S-GI. She holds the school record in the 100-fly and was a leg in the record-setting 400- and 200-free relay teams.

She was a top 3-point earner for the Lady Griffins, throughout her time at S-GI. As a senior, Frank captained a team that finished 8 – 3.

“I think we did a lot of hard work,” the athlete said, about her team’s success. “I mean, there is still some work to be done, but certain individuals did an excellent job. We tried our best and we helped each other out, when we needed it. Having gone through SWAT and knowing each other for at least five years or so, before we got on to the varsity [team], I think that really helped bring us closer and ended up making us more successful.”

Frank said that her former SWAT coaches, Ron Vogel and John Baronich, helped mold her into the person she is, today. She also credited Coach Karen Reynolds and former varsity Coach William Mcdonough, for pushing her to achieve her best in the pool.

She added that current SWAT Coach Duane Boberg, Peggy Piatek and Greg Books have been instrumental, in guiding her in and out of the pool.

Frank said that the SWAT participants are like family to her and that they have given her a lot of support. She said that she is very grateful that the SWAT program has continued.

Frank has been volunteering three times, per week, since September, to work one-on-one with a swimmer who needs assistance. She has worked as a lifeguard and has also taught swimming lessons, helping new swimmers learn the strokes and proper techniques.

“I’ve always loved helping kids and watching them progress,” she said. “That’s always a wonderful treat for me. SWAT is all about teaching kids how to swim; I had older kids help me. It’s just great, giving back to the community.”

Frank is a member of the United States Navy Sea Cadets. This past summer, she traveled to Jacksonville, Fla. and completed a course at the Rescue Swimmer School at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville. After graduation, Frank said that she hopes to join the Coast Guard, to become a rescue swimmer.

“I want to use my swimming abilities to help people and I feel like that is the best way to go, for now,” she said.

The athlete is the daughter of Renee and Jeff Frank.

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