Coach Kelton Recounts Diversity Camp Experience

The experience I had at the Olympic Training Center diversity camp was nothing short of awesome.  As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by John Cruzat and Ben Sheppard, the head coach.  These two great guys showed me around the facility and introduced me to the staff of coaches with whom I would be working.  This staff included Gilbert Legaspi, Kiki Diaz, Abi Liu, Ben Sheppard, and me.  John Cruzat also invited Maritza Correia, the first African American woman Olympic swimmer, to come along with us and speak to the kids when they arrived.  The staff and I immediately hit it off.  John Cruzat took us out to dinner at a Fondu restaurant that proved interesting.  Although I had no previous experience of boiling raw meat on site, I went along with the program since I was hungry.


Thirty two kids who had to be at least quad A in their swimming abilities arrived the next day.  Sixteen girls and sixteen boys ambled into their rooms with eager looks of anticipation.  About an hour after they arrived, we had them in the pool.  One of the first things I learned on this trip is the enormous difference that swimming at altitude makes for kids.  After the first thirty minutes, they were stopping on the wall and getting out of the pool because they were experiencing cramps and shortness of breath.  Later that night, Maritza spoke with the kids about her career and her experience at the Olympics.  They loved her talk.


The next morning, it was back to the pool.  Each coach was responsible for some part of the workout throughout the week.  It was incredibly educational to see the various techniques other coaches were conveying to kids in the water and on dry land.  During the afternoon practice, Olympian Elizabeth Beisel and one of her teammates came by and talked to the kids about the importance of working hard and setting goals.  This I think was critical because Elizabeth is only 16 years old, so the kids could easily relate to her on a personal level.  Her team, Blue Fish Swim Club, was training at altitude, but her coach was gracious enough to allow Elizabeth and her teammate to take time out their training to talk to the kids. 


The next morning, the kids were gathered together and Mark Schubert, USA Swimming National Team Head Coach & General Manager, came by and told several stories from the Olympic Games.  He emphatically told the kids to never stop dreaming.


At the next practice, the kids got a chance to meet more Olympians.  They met Rowdy Gains, Mel Stewart, Misty Hyman, and Lindsey Mintenko.  Each one shared his/her individual successes and setbacks. 


This was a great experience.  I made several new friends, and I met some quality coaches who were willing to share ideas about swimming.  One thing that I did not realize was the popularity of Club Wolverine.  Whenever someone asked me where I coached and I responded, “CWý, they immediately recognized the name and you could just tell that there was a sense of respect that comes with the name.  Club Wolverine is definitely one of the most respected names in the swimming community.