Community Gets Big Kick Out of Swim Team Clinic

Marah Alindogan

After a long successful season, including record-breaking national championship appearances by All-Americans senior Claire Collins and junior Karl Mering, the Whitman College swim team continues to make its mark in a different way. From April 7 -11, the swim team is putting on a week-long swim clinic for the Whitman and Walla Walla community.

Photo by Tanner Bowersox

Swimmers on the team become coaches for the week and put on a variety of lessons that range from parent-toddler classes to competitive classes for older children. These swim clinics also serve as a fundraising effort for expenses in the program, especially out-of-region travel.

Sophomore Elise Tinseth, the sole organizer of the clinics, talks about the popularity of the lessons within the community.

“We open the lessons up to the Walla Walla and Whitman communities. A large majority of people in lessons are professors and Whitman staff. I have had a lot of requests for an extra week of lessons, and I have had great feedback about the lessons,” said Tinseth.

Head Swimming Coach Jennifer Blomme, whose main role is overseeing operations of the clinics, believes her team’s dedication is a key to the clinic’s success.

“There is an unbelievably positive community response. Because of our numbers, we are able to provide one-on-one lessons, which is something that is really hard to find outside of these clinics. It is difficult to find teachers who are so invested,” said Blomme.

Photo by Tanner Bowersox

The clinics prove beneficial and enjoyable for participants and the swim team alike.

“The swimmers really enjoy teaching lessons to the kids. It really is rewarding to pass on something that is so important in your life to all of the kids,” said Tinseth.

Senior Melanie Notari also mentions the joy she receives from teaching the lessons.

“I love the parent-toddler class. It is super fun, but it can be kind of difficult because you deal with toddlers who are not familiar with the water. I also enjoy teaching younger kids more because you see a lot of improvement,” said Notari.

Similarly, Blomme talks about the shift in roles for the swimmers from athletes to teachers.

“There is great expertise among the swim team. A lot of them are really awesome with working with kids and adults. It’s a good teaching-learning experience for the swimmers that are doing the work. The folks that are taking the lessons also seem to be quite happy with the results,” said Blomme.

Notari believes the lessons are not only fun but very important, especially in the Walla Walla community.

“It is really important to learn how to swim. I don’t think until I moved to Walla Walla that I realized how many people don’t know how to swim. It is an important skill to have. It’s something that is easier to learn when you are younger, so we are encouraging safety and healthy behavior through these clinics,” said Notari.

Photo By Tanner Bowersox

However, one of the most important things that both the team and its clinic participants gain are the personal relationships.

“I think there is nothing better to reconnect to the joy of the sport than teaching somebody from the very beginning. A kid that is scared to go in the water, and all of a sudden at the end of the week they are jumping off the side and blowing bubbles is the best thing in the world,” said Blomme.