June is hot in south Texas, and with school out for the summer, kids flock to the pools. The city of Mission, Texas, runs two pools. They work together to provide programs to teach kids how to swim and another to teach competitive swimming.
(As always, be sure to click on each photo to see a larger version.)
Way back in 1994, a recent graduate from high school was encouraged by his former swimming coach to start a summer program – and that’s what Arnold Perez did. There were a grand total of five kids that first year. Of those, two are now in college and they come back to help coach the little kids. Along the way he was joined by Fabian Lara. Though they compete against each other as high school swim coaches, they’re buddies during the summer.
I watched as over 100 kids practiced their starts before the first meet of the summer. The two main coaches used a combination of whistles and bull horn to show the kids how it will be in an actual swim meet. The swimmers dove in on signal, swam a short distance, then climbed out of the pool – and did it all over again. And again. And again.
The smaller kids were coached by the two college women. They worked on technique as well as helping the younger swimmers understand all the signals. They were patient, yet firm with their young charges – and they knew parents were watching. Danielle and Sonya were very proud of the fact that they had been among the very first swimmers in the program, and even prouder to be giving back to today’s kids. At the end of practice, they stayed with Coach Lara to be sure the little kids understood the time to be ready in the morning for their first competition of the summer.