Last month, I went on my second Race Club Swim Clinic from our home in Islamorada in the Florida Keys. The first was in Buffalo, NY last summer. This time, I went to Lima, Ohio. Lima is a small blue-collar, Midwest town of about 50,000 people, located midway between Dayton to the south and Toledo to the north. Driving around town, one would not mistake Lima for anything other than a Midwest town, but after digging a little history from my hosts at the local YMCA, I found that Lima has some pretty interesting history all its own. For example, I did not know that Lima is where the famous jailbreak of gangster John Dillinger took place in the 1930’s. Nor did I realize that the primary donor of the YMCA was also the owner of the largest pork rind factory in the world. I always wondered where pork rinds came from. By the way, if you don’t know what a pork rind is, you obviously have never been to a truck stop before.
The history of Lima flowed and ebbed with America’s growth. First, there was the boom of the oil industry with Rockefeller’s Standard Oil setting up refinery business there. Then, after the Great Depression, it followed the rust belt, with emerging automotive-related businesses. Today, it actually boasts having the largest plant for Proctor and Gamble in the world, with enough employees to count as a small city. There have been some notable people from Lima, including founding member of the Beach Boys, Al Jardine, actress/comedian Phyllis Diller, sportscaster Bud Collins and Nobel Prize laureate in physics, William Alfred Fowler. This trip was not for Lima sightseeing, however. It was all about getting Lima’s swimmers faster. There was only one place to do that in town and that was the local downtown YMCA.
The pool was an indoor, eight-lane 25 yard pool, relatively newly built, but as space is always a premium, allowed for very little deck space. The YMCA pool of Lima does not have one problem for sure; usage. We started our TRC morning sessions at 5 am, to get in the first 2 hour session before school and the afternoon sessions were at 3 pm for 1 ½ hrs, before the next group of swimmers were anxiously waiting to jump in. So it went day after day from 5 am to 10 pm at night. Four different schools and a few clubs used the same YMCA pool for their swimming training.
Like I discovered in Buffalo, there was no lack of natural talent in Lima. Most of these swimmers have no idea how good they are, or how good they can become, so a lot of my job is to inform them of that and to inspire them to turn that talent into actual swimming performances. There were the usual number of stroke corrections…lots, but the swimmers adapted quickly and understood the scientific reasons for doing so. Over four days, I saw 18 swimmers graduate from being so-so swimmers to real athletes with dreams and talent and determination to live their dreams out.
Since leaving Lima, I can proudly say that seven of the eighteen swimmers have stepped up their training in a major way and have been consistently giving all for this season. My host, Erik Risolvolato, who is a dentist, is donating much time to help coach them with my advice. I am anxious to see how they do in February at their state meet. I think they will turn some heads.
My Race Club experience in Lima confirms what I had suspected from Buffalo last summer. There is a tremendous need in many areas of the United States for intense stroke technique camps and some inspiring and encouraging words.
And there is talent everywhere. In Lima and Buffalo, I saw tremendous gains in just four days. Who knows what will come out of it? If it is just one more college scholarship, or one more state title or even one more smiling face, it is all worth it.
Yours in Swimming,
Visit the photo gallery of Gary’s trip to Lima.