Growing up, my parents emphasized the importance of hard work, discipline, leadership, and having fun. They taught me that success is not measured in handouts; everyone should work for what they achieve and earn. I became involved in the Golden Belt Swim Squad (GBSS) at the age of seven and I learned that without hard work and discipline, it is difficult to succeed.
The GBSS taught me more than how to swim back and forth in a body of water. It taught me that hard work, discipline, and patience can lead to improvements at meets. However, more importantly, it taught me what teamwork and friendship look like. Although swimming appears on the surface to be an individual sport, it is anything but that. Swimming is a family. Children learn true teamwork and sportsmanship. Due to the swim program that our community has, our children start learning the true meaning of teamwork as early as age five. As they grow up, they foster friendships not only with those on their own team, but also with peers on other teams. Often times, if one were to look at the end of the lanes during meets, they would see swimmers cheering on their teammates, as well as swimmers from other teams. When swimmers are a family, that family extends past their own team. These are skills that are carried on into one’s adult life. I can personally say that the swimming community has fostered some lifelong friendships.
The coaching staff that our community has is strong. Not only does the GBSS consistently have successful seasons, but both high school programs are also highly successful. Take a look at the girl’s high school swim team, who just finished their season. Not only did they take numerous swimmers to the state meet, but they also won the WAC title for the twelfth straight season. These girls accomplished this by listening to their coach and working through pain. Getting rid of such a program that teaches lifelong skills would be detrimental to the community and to our youth.
Our community emphasizes keeping business local. The swim programs our community offers does just that. Swim meets bring swimmers from all over the state to the facility and community. Students in high school see the college and what it has to offer. If there are finances available to start a new wrestling program at the college, there should also be funding available to start a swim program. If a swim program could be implemented, the students who see part of the campus when at swim meets may then decide to attend the college. There have been numerous swimmers from our community who have continued their swimming career in college, myself included. No swimmer has stayed local to do this, as there are no opportunities for this.
The pool is more than a body of water. It symbolizes friendships, determination, and accomplishments. I would urge you to take a look at alternatives to shutting it down. Are there fundraising opportunities that can be done to save the pool? Are there ways that the budget can be moved around? Each family who participates in the program pays fees that go to the college. If there is no funding for the pool, I want to know where the money that each family pays the college to utilize the facility is used. Losing this facility would take away the opportunity for our youth to learn essential life skills, but it would also take away a longstanding, successful tradition.
Alexandra L. Carlson