Oct 4, 2012, 9:29 AM EDT
Swimming is all about the little things. Whether it is the milli-seconds that determine a race, the breathing pattern that swimmers must retain over countless laps, the fine points of the mechanics of each stroke or the few points by which a typical meet is decided, swimming is focused on making small improvements to enhance your overall performance.
Rarely in swimming are there huge strides, but on Saturday Brian Barnes and the women’s swimming and diving squad took a major step forward out of the pool. The Irish raised over $20,000 at the second annual Coaches v. Cancer Fighting Irish Swim Clinic, roughly four times as much as last year’s total.
The money raised at the swim clinic is donated to RiverBend Cancer Services, an organization that supports members of the community in their fight against cancer, a cause Coach Barnes is passionate about.
“What is nice about this camp is that it is not just about Notre Dame, it is not just about Tyler McGill, it is about the swimming community making a difference in the community,” Barnes said, “All of this money is going to cancer care and it is going to friends and neighbors and that is what is nice about this fundraiser.”
The highlight of the camp was Tyler McGill, who won an Olympic gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics and led this year’s clinic. McGill quickly accepted the invitation to help lead the camp.
“When Brian [Barnes] first asked me about coming to this event it was a no brainer,” said McGill, “Not just because it is something that I believe and a great cause in the work that RiverBend [Cancer Services] does to support families, but my swimming career and my life has been strongly impacted by others who have had cancer and Brian has gone through everything possible in the last year. To be able to come here and raise funds for that foundation and teach the kids butterfly at the same time, is a no-brainer.”
McGill was also eager to give back to the youths who have supported him and team USA throughout the Olympics.
“These are the future kids of swimming. They are our fans and they are the ones who look up to me and the other professional swimmers in the United States,” McGill explained, “So for me to be able to come here and interact with them and show them we appreciate them supporting us is something I enjoy. It is important for me to get involved with the swimmers because they are our fans.
McGill wasn’t the only one teaching the local swimmers as several members of the Notre Dame men and women’s swimming teams were on hand to assist McGill and Barnes. Senior captain Lauren Scott was excited about the opportunity to give back to the Michiana swimming community.
“I think that is a great fundraiser for our team because we are able to take all of our skill sets and really apply those skills in the local community,” said Scott, “I think it is great to use something that we are passionate about and help them for a couple of hours.”
While the camp was aimed at the local youth swimmers, they were not the only ones who learned something at the event. The women’s swimming team was able to interact with McGill throughout the weekend and pick his brain on a number of swimming topics.
“I think the great thing about our sport is that you are constantly learning,” explained Scott, “So to have someone at the highest level achieve their goals and tell their story about how they got there allowed us to learn a lot. When you have someone come in and explain what real work ethic means and reestablish what we can do as a program I think it inspires us to get back in the pool and train and use some of the little things he is teaching the kids today.”
The Irish will use those pieces of advice when they open the season next Friday at 5:00 p.m. in the Rolfs Aquatic Center at the annual Dennis Stark Relays.
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