By MELANIE VANDERVEER
Pocono Record Writer
October 12, 2008
At the age of 13, Josh Davis was told by his swim coach that he should change sports because he would never make it as a swimmer.
Davis can now laugh about that experience since he holds three Olympic gold medals and two silver in swimming. "The Josh Davis Swim Center is now at that very spot that I was told to quit," Davis told the kids with a laugh.
On Saturday, Davis and fellow Olympic swimmer Rachel Komisarz gave local swimmers the chance of a lifetime by not only motivating them but also swimming and racing them in the pool at Pocono Mountain West High School. "Greatness lies within each and every one of you. Everyone has a gift and talent and a freedom to be great," Davis told the crowd.
The negativity that Davis received by his swim coach when he was so young has stuck with him and has motivated him to make sure that other children do not have to go through that. "During the swim clinic, we will be sharing everything we know about swimming and nutrition as well as motivating the kids. It's a mind, body, soul experience," Davis said. "We tell our stories about racing in the Olympics and how we got there to inspire the kids. We are just regular people."
The local swimmers that attended the clinic are members of the Pocono Family YMCA and ranged in age from 6 to about 15.
The clinic, hosted by the YMCA Piranhas Swim Team, is a unique experience developed by Davis along with Mutual of Omaha to inspire and motivate the younger generation of swimmers.
"The kids get a lot out of this program, but so do I," Komisarz said. "To see how excited the kids are is very motivating to me." Davis added, "Winning a medal at the Olympic games is great, but seeing the kids' eyes light up is really refreshing. If one child leaves this pool feeling inspired, it was totally worth it."
The program started out with a motivational speech by Davis that told the kids, "Swimmers are extra cool people." He then proceeded to explain the four reasons why it is great to be a swimmer. "We are tougher than the other sports, smarter than the other sports, much better looking and cleaner," Davis explained to the room of laughing children.
Davis, father of five children, has a soft place in his heart for the next generation of gold medal swimmers.
"I started swimming late, I was 12 years old. It is great to be able to tell my story and show kids that it's never too late to start."
Komisarz also started out in swimming later than most. "I started out at age 17.
I always tell parents to let the kids enjoy it and learn to love it without pushing," Komisarz said.
Mike Wolbert started coaching the YMCA swim team in 1991. "I swam for this team when I was younger," Wolbert said.
"This is the second year that I brought this program to the school, and it has really inspired many of the swimmers."
Wolbert's team runs year-round, and he hopes that this program will motivate more swimmers to strive for greatness.
The clinic was a combination of motivational speaking, in-pool activities and even a race that included both the Olympic swimmers and the children.
Colin Cruz, 14, was happy to be at the event. "I have been on the swim team for seven years now. I think this is a pretty cool program. I did one other Olympic clinic before but I think this one is going to be better because I can relate to Josh a lot," Cruz said.
Fellow swim team member Emily Cabral, 11, added, "I hope to be able to drop some time in my backstrokes today with this clinic."
The event was a success with more than 60 children there to get the motivation that all kids should receive in everything they do.
Swimming teaches time management, work ethics, honesty and discipline, and Davis and Komisarz want to make sure that the children realize how important these qualities are.
"Hard work does pay off," Davis said.
At the end of the program, the children walked away with a goodie bag filled with shirts, DVDs and other surprises as well as the confidence needed to become a great swimmer and all-around great person.
"The core message is to dream big, set your goals and always do your best.
That is what makes you a champion," Davis said The swimmers
About Josh Davis: In 1996, Davis made history by becoming the only man in any sport from any nation to win three gold medals at the Atlanta Olympic Games. He made his second Olympic appearance in the 2000 Games in Sydney. He was the elected captain of the USA Men's Swim Team and took home two silver medals. He then went on to break the American record three times in the 200-meter freestyle. Father to five children and holding more than 70 clinics all across the country every year keeps Davis busy.
About Rachel Komisarz: Her first visit to the Olympics earned her a gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle relay and a silver medal in the 400-meter medley relay at the 2004 Olympic Games.
In 2006, she was a member of the first-place 400-meter medley relay team at the Mutual of Omaha Pan Pacific Games. She earned a silver medal on the 400-meter medley relay team at the 2007 World Championships.
About the Pocono Family YMCA Swim Team: The team that has been swimming since 1976 consists of swimmers ages 4-18 who compete in the YMCA and USA swimming meets throughout eastern Pennsylvania. The programs are available to swimmers of all abilities. For more information, (570) 421-2525 ext. 320 or visit www.pfyswim.org.
31 Pocono Family YMCA Swimmers swam a total of 198,300 yard which is 112.7 miles on Sunday for Autism. Swimmers swam for 3 hours and many did not even stop for breaks.
6 & Under Girls
Lauren Fenn - 2,950 yards (New Team Record)
Elizabeth Kemp - 2,600 yards
8 & Under Girls
Kailey Burns - 4,300 yards
Nadine Parrish - 2,700 yards
Alora Cruz - 2,500 yards
8 & Under Boys
Zack Wolbert - 5,950 yards (New Team Record)
Ben Shaw - 2,500 yards
Emily Wolbert - 10,950 yards(New Team Record)
Irene Gendelmen - 8,550 (Also broke old team record)
Emily Cabral - 7,600 yards
Alexis Kemp - 7,300 yards
Kimmie Konz - 7,300 yards
Mary Cerbone - 7,100 yards
Meaghan Dwyer - 6,700 yards
Holly Storck - 6,200 yards
Maggie Palaski - 4,850 yards
Chris Metgar - 5,450 yards (New Team Record)
Jacob Clifford - 5,450 yards (New Team Record)
Teddy Walton - 4,900 yards
Braedon Shaw - 4,850 yards
Katherine Lutfy - 10450 yards (New Team Record)
Alex Burns - 8,750 yards
Alana Slater - 8,750 yards
Emma Solak - 8,00 yards
Abby Palaski - 3,950 yards
Kodi Clifford - 2,950 yards
Ben Gendelman - 11,400 yards (New Team Record)
Corey Light - 5,100 yards
Colin Cruz - 11,500 yards (New Team Record)
Carlos Rodriguez - 10,200 yards (Also broke old team record)
Sean Bartlett - 6,550 yards
Pocono Piranhas to host Annual Swim Marathon to benefit Autism Research. On Sunday January 13, 2008 at 12pm the Pocono YMCA Piranhas Swim Team will host an annual Swim Marathon, this year to benefit Autism Research. Last year the piranhas rose over $3500. The Benefit began as an annual event to honor a graduating swimmer, Onel Ramirez. Who has been afflicted with SpinaBifida his entire life but has not let it stop him from achieving a world record in swimming.
This year the swim team would like to support in the early detection and the research for a cure to Autism. Many people and their families are affected with this condition and the reason is still unknown. Yet the numbers of children born with autism has been increasing annually.
Team Director, Mike Wolbert says he is proud to be able to help further the research for Autism, an affliction that strikes so many families. The Marathon will be held at Pocono Mountain West. All are welcome to attend and encourage the swimmers.
Donations are welcome and can be sent to the
Pocono Family YMCA Swim Team, 809 Main Street, Stroudsburg PA 18360.
Spring Competitive Swim Team -
First Day of Practice is Monday March 31st
Pre-Competitive Developmental Team (Ages 4-10 only) - First Day of Practice is Wednesday Jan 2nd
Please note each location has a program limit
Take your Mark Developmental Team (Ages 10 and Up only) - First Day of Practice is Wednesday Jan 2nd
(NEW PROGRAM FOR FALL 2007) Please note each location has a program limit and this program is not offered at the YMCA