FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – An idea 15 years in the making to benefit kids within the city of Flagstaff finally came to fruition. With Lumberjack Aquatics at the head of it and the Northern Arizona swimmers providing the instruction, the two entities conducted a total of four swim lessons – free of charge – over the past three weeks.
"Swimming is a lifetime sport and it's something you can do forever," said NAU volunteer swimming coach Liz Hobbs. "If you're afraid of the water, you're going to avoid it your whole life. Our goal was to plant a few seeds for these young kids who may have never had the opportunity to be exposed to swimming and turn them into lifelong fans of the water."
The four swim lessons were free to kids of any ability level and were held at Mount Elden Middle School. Over the last three Wednesdays and last Saturday, the NAU swimmers dedicated their time to share their skills and passion for the sport with Flagstaff's next generation through 90 minute sessions.
Basic skill training and organized games were part of every lesson and clear progress, as well as admiration for the Lumberjack student-athletes, was apparent by the time the doors closed following the final lesson.
"Being able to bring our girls, who are such great swimmers and have great love for the sport, to kids who don't have access to swimming is amazing," Hobbs said. "There were several children who cried on the first day and our girls just captivated them. By the end, those same kids were hugging our swimmers and their smiles are immediate rewards and make this all worth it."
For the NAU swimmers, it was a service opportunity that provided instant gratification. It was an opportunity to teach, laugh and give back while taking a look back at their own starts within the sport – long before they were part of a Division I championship program.
"It's great to give back to these kids because when I was their age, I was just starting to get comfortable with the water," said sophomore Sarah Takach. "It's crazy to see how much improvement they made in just four lessons. It's always important to give back to the community in any way we can; especially when they can't get this anywhere else."
Lumberjack Aquatics is a USA Swimming club located in Flagstaff. Hobbs, Lumberjack Aquatics and NAU Swimming hopes to continue this program into the summer and beyond. More details will be provided later.