Swimming greats impart wisdom on local youths

ORWICH – Some of greatest swimmers in U.S. history came from a small-town background and out of the spotlight. Ian Crocker can attest to that, and he told his story to local youths Sunday morning.

Crocker, along with Olympic swimming hopeful Madison Kennedy, stopped in at Norwich High School’s Echentile Pool for the Mutual of Omaha Breakout Swim Clinic, hosted by the Greater Chenango Aquatics Team.

Dozens of young swimmers ages 8-18 turned out to hear Crocker’s and Kennedy’s motivational messages, while also picking up some techniques from perhaps the most accomplished swimmers to ever walk the NHS pool’s deck.

And the messages were well worth hearing. Crocker won Olympic gold medals in three separate Olympic Games, and held the world record in the 100-meter butterfly from 2003-2009. This from a young man who grew up in the state of Maine, not your typical swimming hotbed. “I grew up swimming in these small, dingy, dark dungeon-type pools, and from there, I ended up qualifying for my first Olympic team (in 2000),” Crocker said. “To get to that level, it’s not necessarily the facility you have or the number of outstanding athletes in your area, it’s really about your own personal goals and what it takes to get there. You don’t know where the path can lead you in the long run, especially if you stay true to what you’re looking for.”

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