The Glacier Swim Club has a great problem. For the first time in club history, new enrollment is in a temporary lock-down status because the club cannot accommodate any more members. The waiting list for newcomers appears dismally infinite in a community where the popularity of swimming is high.
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The Glacier Swim Club's success is due to several key attributes: friends, fundamentals and fun.
Head coach Scott Griffith credits the satisfaction the swimmers get from personal accomplishment.
"First of all, I think the kids enjoy swimming and they develop pretty tight bonds here. They are really proud of what they have done, so they want come back and do more, and they keep improving every year."
The club provides an avenue for self-motivated people to channel their interest in the sport.
To help keep the swimmers motivated, the club provides workshops at every level and even aids participants through their college selection process.
Melissa Bogert's gusto recently earned her a full scholarship to Washington State University. Bogert credited the club, saying, "There's a great group of people. They like swimming, like to practice and stick with the program because it is fun."
Alex Barto, a student at Juneau-Douglas High School, began swimming at Augustus Brown Pool at the age of 5. When asked what makes the club so attractive, Bartow said, "Well, I like swimming with friends and it is the people on the team, plus the coaches are pretty cool too."
The coaching staff is considered "pretty cool" because of their teaching philosophy.
"We try to educate the kids on how to better their performance rather then just tell them what to do. Taking that approach, there is a lot more responsibility and accountability on their part to realize what they are doing and what they have to do to get better," Griffith said.
Although improvement and success are the ultimate goals, Griffith's coaching staff educates club members about other aspects of the sport too.
"We also teach the kids about how to handle failure, and that is a huge part about swimming," Griffith said. "When they realize that is a part of the process, we teach them how to strive through it. One of the great things about swimming is that a kid does not have to be a superstar in order to build self-esteem and confidence just in seeing themselves improve. Here in swimming, you can be as good as you want, on your own terms. It is very individual, yet in a team atmosphere, and I think that is why they stick with it. And it's something they can be proud of."
The club has a bright future as the capital city looks toward the opening of the new Mendenhall Valley pool.
The club staff is running the club at full capacity and Griffith hopes the new pool will allow the club to expand and grow even stronger.
"There seems to be lots of potential," Griffith said. "From sixth grade down, the waiting list is just enormous, so the future is great with all those kids coming up."
To continue successfully, the club will definitely have to increase staff but organizers hope to attract a full-time professional swim coach to add to the staff -someone who would help run both locations.
Alex Barto wishes the new pool would provide another benefit as well.
"Hopefully with two pools, we wouldn't have five o'clock in the morning practices," he said.
Until the city's new plan unfolds, early morning wake up calls will continue for a devoted group of Glacier Swim Club members.
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