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Riding the Wave

Whistles blow and they're off…
Cutting through the crystal blue water, a look of determination on their faces, they go faster and faster, arms and legs propelling them through the water. Splashes form whitecaps on the surface as chlorine permeates the damp air. Lap after lap they reach the finish line, panting and out of breath. One swimmer shakes his head to get the water out of his ear, as Coach Frederick yells, "Good, let's do it again!" And they're off for another swim.

Started as a club sport in 1990, Albright's swim team, the second largest athletic team on campus, boasting approximately 50 to 60 swimmers, has grown to a powerhouse varsity team in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) in only a decade. Last year, both the mean and

women's teams proved that when they went undefeated in the regular season and brought home MAC championship titles.

It was euphoric, says Jenis Frederick, head coach of the men's and women's swim teams and founder and director of Albright's aquatics program. "I couldn't believe it had happened, especially both the men and the women in the same year. I know that that was a real special occasion. A lot of people worked a lot of hours for those results."
Frederick herself walked away with honors. She was named MAC Women's Swimming Coach of the Year.

But for most of the past 11 years, Frederick's hours have been consumed by more than just coaching. Recruiting new swimmers, coordinating team fundraisers, and creating a successful aquatics program to serve the Greater Reading area have also been at the top of her list.
But coaching the students remains the top priority. "I coach from the heart," says Frederick. And all of the staff come from strong Christian faith. "We try to image that."

Jenis Frederick and JoAnn Stockholm Head Swim Coach Jenis Frederick (left) and Assistant Swim Coach JoAnn Stockholm in the Albright Natatorium.

Practices, held Monday through Friday and occasional Sunday nights, are intense. Each student, expected to do his or her best, swims approximately four to five miles a day. But despite these high demands, Frederick says she believes "students should be well-rounded. They have to have time to be students first and have a social life too." She adds, "If the only thing I teach these young people how to do is swim faster, I've probably failed them. Our job as coaches is to help them transition to becoming responsible men and women."

It's also to keep challenging their skills, she says. After last year's championship win and undefeated season, Frederick says she tried to schedule more difficult teams this year. Competing in a new meet at the Goodwill Games Aquatic Center in East Meadow, N.Y. was definitely a challenge. "It was grueling," Frederick says. Competing against other ECAC Division III champions, Albright ended with a respectable fifth place finish.

"I was very pleased with our team standing," she says. "The level of competition is tougher than our MAC Championships meet. Also, diving is tallied in the team scores. Since we don't have diving, it was to our disadvantage."

But when she's not trying to challenge the teams' skills, Frederick is running the successful Albright aquatic program which began in 1994.

The Men's and Women's swim teams celebrate after winning the 1999 MAC Championships. Swim celebration

From learn to swim and parent-tot water exploration classes to open swim and lifeguard training, Albright Aquatics offers an array of activities. "There's very rarely a day that goes by where we don't have anywhere from 20 to 50 people coming and going from the pool" for open swim, Frederick says. In fact, the average number of participants per day in the various swimming activities ranges from 200 to 250. And most nights, she adds, "the bleachers are packed with parents who bring their kids in for AAC (Albright Aquatic Club). The Albright Aquatic Club is a member team of the United States Swimming Association. There are approximately 100-130 local children ages five to 18 who practice at Albright for competition in the Eastern Pennsylvania Aquatic League. "It's a neat outreach to the community," she says.
According to Frederick, the growth of the program has been incredible. "Sometimes I think I've built a monster," she says wide-eyed. But, "could I do it by myself?" she questions. "Absolutely not!"

JoAnn Stockholm, assistant aquatic director and assistant swim coach; Steve Stambaugh, head coach, Albright Aquatic Club; and Jim Goodreau '98, assistant coach, round out the team leadership. Frederick says, "It's almost a beautiful system how the staff works together here. No one worries about the credit. It's a 'let's just get it done,'" type of atmosphere. She adds, "We also couldn't do it without the student helpers. There's no way we could operate without all that student assistance."

When raising funds for warm-up suits, special equipment and other essentials are also thrown into the mix, the more help the better. In need of funds to keep the program running at the successful level it has achieved, students and coaches must hold fundraisers throughout the year. These include a swim-a-thon, candle sale, stationary/wrapping paper sale, football/basketball concessions and a youth basketball tournament in the summer. But parents are also a great support to the team, says Frederick. They sell raffle tickets and are investigating the possibility of creating a Swimming Support Fund. "The parent support is tremendous, outstanding," she says. "I can't say enough about it."

Jenis - MAC  Swim Coach of the Year Head Coach Jenis Frederick is honored as the MAC Women's Swim Coach of the Year.

Alumni are also an important link. Keith Swetz '98, former student staff assistant for the swim team, says he enjoys coming back to Albright to see the team succeed. "It's a direct reflection on what Jenis has done with this program," Swetz says. "Jenis has trained All Americans, national qualifiers, league champions… She is a true teacher and has dedicated her life to teaching and improving athletes, bringing out the best that each person has to offer."
She is also a dreamer. Her dream is for the future of the Albright swim team. Frederick says she'd like to see the Swimming Support Fund up and running and "continually get contributions so that someday the program will be endowed, and whoever is in my shoes won't have to worry about funding."

She would also like to see the team continue its success, "remaining among the top three teams in the MAC for a long time to come."

However, Frederick says she knows that no matter what place the team finishes in, "every young man and woman who comes through this program will have a good experience and go away a better person for it." Because, she says, as famous Olympian Eric Liddell once stated, "In the dust of defeat as well as in the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best."

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