Gold Medalists Inspire Local Children

Vincent Lane, 15, of Roanoke gets a memento photo Saturday morning at the Gator Center with U.S. three-Olympic gold medal swimmer, Ian Crocker (left) and Sydney Olympics butterfly gold medalist Misty Hyman (right).

by Carol Kirtley

Thirty-two children aged 8 to 18 worked and played with U.S. Olympians Ian Crocker and Misty Hyman Saturday morning at the Gator Center in Roanoke learning water safety procedures, swimming techniques and water games at Mutual of Omaha’s “BREAKOUT!” Swim Clinic hosted by AkzoNobel.

“Fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of injury-related death for children ages one to fourteen. We are around water every day — swimming pools, rivers, ponds, lakes.  We don’t realize how important it is to teach our children water safety,” said James Bray, General Manager for AkzoNobel in Roanoke and Clinton, Mississippi.

Bray said, “We and Ian and Misty also hope to inspire the children to have a dream and realize that their dream can come true. Ian and Misty are normal people who were once kids. They had a dream and made it come true.”

Ian and Misty both told their personal story to the children and then talked about how the body, mind and heart affect swimming. Then they all got wet.  In the pool, Ian and Misty worked with each child on champion performance techniques on all four strokes and ended the instruction with fun and challenging games.

“I remember when I was eight years old standing on the pool deck and I had no idea where that was going to take me.  I want these kids to know that we (Olympic Gold Medalists) were not hatched on another planet, that we were once just like them. I’m from Portland, Maine and never had a chance to meet an Olympian.  I hope something I’ve done here or said will inspire a dream for them,” Ian said.

After a rousing tag game of Shark and the Minnows, Misty jumped out of the pool, drenched but with a huge smile.

“That was so much fun. They are wonderful children. Swimming has brought so much joy to me and nothing is more satisfying to me than sharing that joy with others.”

“There are 30 AkzoNobel employees and family members spending their Saturday here. If one child gets something out of this event today it will be worth all of it,” Bray said.

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