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Olympian comes to town

'Seeing the beauty of swimming is something I want to share'

Olympic Gold Medalist Sheila Taormina was in Lake Orion last week. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
March 30, 2011 - Four time Olympic swimmer and 1996 gold medalist in 4x200m freestyle relays, Sheila Taormina visited the Lake Orion High School on March 22 to help local swimmers young and old

Amy Kuiper, Aquatics Director at the Lake Orion Natatorium, said the event was a unique experience.

"Some community members heard about a clinic she was running down in Milford and tried to sign up, but there were no more spots," Kuiper said. "So they contacted Taormina and asked her if she would do a clinic in Lake Orion.

"The community members basically organized the whole thing."

Taormina's clinic involved people of all ages interested in gaining a greater insight into the world of swimming. Taormina has been running clinics country-wide, and in some cases, internationally. Her love of swimming, and her gratitude for the training she received during her career made her interested in lecturing and teaching the sport.

"I feel very blessed to learn from Oympic coaches and athletes, and when you've been in the sport for 30 years, you learn more as you go," she said. "I enjoy going around and sharing some of the concept I've learned, and I just hope the kids and the people at the high school that day will be able to take those techniques and apply them to what they love."

Taormina likes to introduce new ideas about swimming to the attendees. She believes many people look at swimming as "going out and swimming a ton of meters," rather than gaining a true appreciation for what she calls the "third dimension" or the "deep blue."

"Getting people to see the big picture - getting them to understand that they are operating in a fluid, helps them see power and strength changes when you're swimming," said Taormina. "People also get so fixated on the surface of the water, when so much is happening below you, where your arm strokes.

"Seeing the beauty of swimming is something I want to share."

Swimming came to Taormina at an early age, when she and her mother would go to pick up her older sister from swim practice. She said "You always want to do everything your older siblings do," and she soon began her own swim practice, discovering her love for the sport.

Taormina also competed in the 2000, '04, and '8 olympics, picking up triathlon and eventually, pentathlon. She tours the country offering clinics and advertising her book, Call the Suit, which she said is a play on words relating to Euchre. In her brief time in Lake Orion, she saw a great deal of potential in the kids of Liquid Lightning, hoping they would continue to embrace swimming and have fun and work as hard as they can at it.

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