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Pros help kids get fitter, faster



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World record holder Nick Thoman, right, instructs kids for proper dive technique. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
May 02, 2012 - Lake Orion High School's Natatorium got a touch of star treatment last weekend when Olympic medalist Julia Smit and world record holder Nick Thoman swam alongside area kids to teach them some of their tricks.

The pair visited the school as part of the Fitter & Faster Tour - A traveling clinic group that visits schools all over the country. Kids aged 13 and up had the opportunity to learn from the masters on Saturday while Sunday saw younger kids get a crack at the swimmer's teachings.

LOHS Pool Director Amy Kuiper said the high school was selected for the tour after plans to use Oakland University's pool fell through. After a coach from Rochester suggested Orion's facilities, she got the call.

"It's just fun to have these guys visit and inspire the kids who are swimming," she said. "Hearing stories from the olympians about what they're doing in their swimming always inspires the younger kids. I remember going to see an olympian when I was a kid and getting their autograph - I actually still have it. It's fun to have that experience and it gets kids excited about swimming."

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The event attracted crowds from all over the state of Michigan, though the Lake Orion based Liquid Lightning was not to be left out. Head Age Group Coach for Liquid Lightning Colin Dolcetti said the opportunity was one that allowed the kids to have fun and grow significantly swimmers.

"The did a clinic at Oakland University, they do clinics all over the USA, and it's nice for them to switch venues and see what Lake Orion has to offer," he said. "It's not every day you get to experience olympians and them teaching you their inside secrets. The kids all really enjoyed it and they all got a lot out of the clinic."

Dolcetti noted the most important lesson of the clinic was a build in confidence. The swimmers asked the visiting kids how they handle nervousness and told them about their own experiences with doubt. Dolcetti said it made a difference with the kids to hear that even top notch swimmers get nervous.

"They shared experiences with how they prepare themselves before a big meet and I think that was good because it made them seem like normal people," he said. "It showed that even these superstar swimmers get nervous and I think that really helped improve the kids self confidence.

"It was fun, it was an opportunity to see the kids grow and I have nothing but good things to say about it."

The Fitter & Faster Tour can be found online at fitterandfaster.com. For more information on Liquid Lightning, visit them on their website at liquidlightning.org.

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