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OTTER DAY & CULLEN JONES VISIT
What a month August has been for the North Side Swim Team and we’re not even in the water!
Cullen Jones visits North Side Otters Sunday, August 19th, 2012
Coming home to the U.S. from the 2012 London Olympics, goldmedal winner Cullen Jones, made a stop at the North Side Otters home pool to answer questions about being a freestyle superstar. He walked onto the pool deck to an enthusiastic standing ovation, which was met with a signature Cullen Jones smile.
Cullen has been touring with USA Swimming Foundation’s Makea Splash Program, talking to swimmers and non-swimmers about the importance of minorities learning to swim. He gave a stunning account of the need for knowledge of basic water safety. Cullen recalled at age 5, being at an amusement water park and finding himself immersed and clinging to the underside of an inner tube. His father had told him not to let go of the innertube, and as a result, he remained trapped under water. Life guards were there immediately but had to resuscitate him after he nearly drowned. The now 28-year-old athlete, who considers swimming his profession, smiled as he told us his first question after coming to was “Which ride was he going on next”? The following day, Cullen was signed up for swimming lessons!
Cullen fielded questions about his training schedule (30hours per week, double practices including weight training), the importance of making and assessing your goals with your coach and family, and making the transition from high school swim team to Olympic level training. He spoke about not always being the fastest kid in the pool but always pressing on, making small steps of improvement. But most importantly, he told our varied group of swimmers to always make sure they are having fun in the pool. “If you’re having a good time, you’ll keep up the work.” As Cullen said, looking around, maybe someone present would be his replacement on the U.S. team one day.
So get in that water and work it out Otters!!
OTTERS and Lonny Kerman honored for 35 years swim team excellence.
Monday, August 27, 2012, may have started out like any otherday, but by 4:30pm Mayor Frank Cownie read into the record of the City of DesMoines a declaration making that day officially North Side Otter Day.
It was indeed a day of proclamations. With a crowd overfilling the City Councilchambers, the mayor invited head coach Lonny Kerman and his wife, Paula, tojoin him as he bestowed upon Coach Kerman the honor of “Distinguished Citizen of Des Moines.” He affirmed Lonny, “a boisterous and sometimes intimidating coach,” had a strong commitment to accepting every child who wanted to swim and be a part of the North Side Swim Team. To that end, Mayor Cownie highlighted that the team established a foundation that seeks to support families whose children wish to be a part of the 170-plus member team. With that in mind, the Mayor noted the astonishing record of 35 straight conference championship wins against swim teams within and around Des Moines.
Mayor Cownie went on to recognize the many values that Lonny taught through the sport of swimming, including mutual respect, determination,and self-discipline. With a knowing glance at the swimmers, the mayor also joked that Lonny was the kind of coach who never wanted swimmers to miss a practice. Lonny took the microphone in his affable way,thanking his wife for 35 years of support behind the scenes and praising the coaches and a great bunch of parents. Most of all, he thanked the young people that made up 35 years of swim teams that now reach back generations.
Councilman Chris Coleman asked all the past and present swimmers to join him at the front of the room for photos and presented each swimmer with a Des Moines “Bridges” Flag. He explained that the bridges on the flag symbolize the efforts of our young swimmers who build bridges in our community through participation in a team that vitalizes our city. He made special note of how many North Side Otters went on to become lifeguards in DesMoines area public pools, further serving our community.
As Councilman Coleman said recently in a letter to our team,“Doinganything 35 times is noteworthy; winning a championship 35 straight years isnothing short of AMAZING.”
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The afternoon was a significant ark of distinction for our coach, one that each swimmer and parent recognized as heartfelt and moving honor for this giant of a coach.