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and they're off
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."
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.
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.
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
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."
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 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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