Swim club celebrates 40 years

Submitted photoTEAM WORK: Members of the Zionsville Swim Club competed in the Winter Junior Nationals.

The Zionsville Swim Club has been coaching, encouraging and watching young people learn and improve their swimming skills for the past 40 years.

In the fall of 1978, John Crist was hired to spearhead the Zionsville High School swim team, and as a result, Crist began a feeder program for the local community.

“I thought it was important for the kids to have a lifelong sport or activity. Swimming is easily measurable, you can see your improvement. Initially, we started out with 50 kids and then 125, maybe 140 by the mid-80s,” Crist said.

Today, the club has more than 300 members and offers competitive swimming for ages 8-18. The club is a member of USASwimming which includes 3,000 swim clubs across the country and 100 in Indiana.

In March, the 14 and under team finished fourth in the state competition, earning the highest placement in club history. The club is also a Bronze level in USASwimming, joining only two or three in the State to reach the distinction.

Tony Brewer’s family has been involved for close to 20 years.

With three children, all swimming on and off throughout the years, Brewer guesses his is among one of the oldest families still attending weekly practices.

“It’s been a wonderful experience. It was important to us to have a club like this so they can swim year round and have a sport they enjoy,” Brewer said.

Brewer recalls when his oldest was 9, the club was still operating out of the old Zionsville High School pool, and the group involved was like a close-knit family.

“It’s a relaxed atmosphere, and all skill levels are welcome. In a lot of sports, not every athlete gets to participate, but here, everyone does. They realize that their success really relies on how much they want to practice and they are in control of where they go with that,” Brewer said.

Brewer’s youngest, Claire will take her love for swimming off to college when she joins St. Louis University’s swim team this fall.

She’s one of five from the club signing with college swim teams this year.

Head coach Eric Meyer also enjoys the diversity of the club.

“We cater to so many different needs and wants. We have national level competitors and others that just enjoy the activity,” Meyer said.

“I think its fun. I like to see the kids’ smiles, whether they are getting their best time or qualifying time standard for Olympic trials… just to see their own improvement and growth is a great thing to be a part of.”

The Swim Club is facing perhaps its largest challenge to date.

There’s a waiting list to get into the club and it has reached capacity at the area pools available. Club management would also like to add additional programming.

Club leadership is seeking to partner with other local organizations to open a new facility and exploring the option of purchasing property.

The club will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a community Zwimfest, a fundraiser launched from the annual Swim-A-Thon.

“We thought it would be fun to transition from the swimming laps and collecting dollars to trying to make it a fun event to activate the community to get involved. We’re offering a kids fun zone with bounce houses, carnival games, prizes and food,” Meyer said.

The Zwimfest will be held at Zionsville High School from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 28.

“It’s nice to see the program going in this direction.” Crist said. "It’s been fun to see it grow in the last 15 years.”

For more information, visit the club website at www.zionsvilleswimclub.org.

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