SWIMMING: Toppers give one-on-one lessons

Heather Cowherd

For more than 30 years, the goal of Western’s swim team has been to “drown-proof” Bowling Green.

In that time, Western swimmers and coach Bill Powell have gotten 10,000 kids closer to reaching that goal.

Each Saturday in April, the swim team teaches one-on-one swimming lessons to individuals who are at least four years old. The program costs $45 and consists of 30-minute sessions. The lessons are taught in the pool area of the Preston Center.

“It’s a fund-raiser for the team and also it’s a great community service, because if we didn’t have the fund-raiser you couldn’t get the one-on-one lessons for the price we offer it,” said swim team member Severin Birchler, a junior from Boberfeld, Ind.

Money raised from the lessons goes toward the swimming team’s expenses during the season.

The swim lessons are given in the fall and in the spring. This year, about 329 students are enrolled in the spring session, including four adults.

Powell said that during the first session he discusses the program and safety with the parents and students. He said he believes that swimming should be taught as a family and encourages parents to stay and watch the session.

“They don’t interfere with the teaching process,” Powell said. “They let the teacher do the teaching.”

In order for the child to continue to improve, many parents have brought their children back to the sessions for several years.

“They’re good swimmers, but every year they get better and stronger, and they enjoy the one-on-one association with the swim teacher,” said athletic director Wood Selig, whose kids Camden, 7, and Nicholas, 5, participate.

Camden is in his third year at the program.

During the off-season, every member of the swim team is required to teach the lessons.

“I really credit our swimmers for being willing to come here and work with people they don’t know,” Powell said. “It’s good for college swimmers because they learn patience.”

Teaching the lessons have also helped the members gain experience in their future careers.

Birchler said he is planning to become an elementary teacher, and he believes that the program has given him experience in working with children.

The program also helps to recruit future swimmers.

“It helps keep the sport going,” Bowling Green sophomore Karl Swanson said. “I think if the kids learn how to swim at a young age, hopefully they will become interested in it and want to do it as a sport.”

Swanson has taught the lessons to children for two years.

“They teach us as we’re teaching them,” Swanson said. “Seeing one of my kids swim on their own – that was a good feeling and lets you know that you are making some sort of difference with them.”

Reach Heather Cowherd at [email protected].