Good Samaritans in Speedos

NEW PORT RICHEY

Although it's not a team requirement, a majority of the members of Tampa Bay Aquatics spend their free time giving back to the community.

The 20 athletes, ages 10 to 16, from the New Port Richey chapter of the swim club practice six days a week year round.

When out of the pool, they can be found serving as volunteer lifeguards, swim coaches or working at a local hospice.

"It's not just about the swimming. If I couldn't have an impact on their lives in some other way, then I wouldn't be doing this," coach Casey Claflin said. "Almost all the people you meet that are involved with swimming are good people, and absolutely, we have some good kids here."

Of the 20 members on the team, 15-year-old Joey Geschke might have the deepest understanding of the impact volunteering can have on the community. The freshman at Ridgewood High School has spent approximately 100 hours at the Hernando-Pasco Hospice since October helping any way he can.

Joey took part in the time of remembrance, an event where everyone grows a plant for someone lost and has sold ornaments for the tree of life, with all the proceeds going to the hospice.

Next year, he plans on working at the Marliere Hospice Care Center and directly help with patients, something he is unable to do now because of age restrictions.

"Swimming is a sport where you really have to be dedicated and be responsible," Joey said. "So it's pretty easy to see why a lot of my teammates are out (helping others). It's not something we talk about, but I think it does help us become better swimmers."

At the National Club Swimming Junior Nationals, TBAY, which consists of seven different branches throughout the area, placed fifth overall.

"Our kids have some talent, and they've really improved over the past few months," Claflin said. "The potential is there, and as long as they keep working at it, they could really become some great swimmers."

Following high school, Joey said he wants to swim at Auburn University or the University of Texas and then find a job raising money for cancer research.

Others on the team might not have the lofty goals of Joey, but they do provide an impact in the community.

Kelsey Magolan, 13, and Mazie Siddens, 14, each volunteer as lifeguards at the New Port Richey Recreation Center pool because they believe it's satisfying to help others and the training they receive is beneficial in any emergency.

"It makes you feel special because you have the power to save somebody," Kelsey said. "It's always good to know how to do CPR. We went through basic training so if someone at school gets hurt, we can help them."

Whether it's just spending time with the elderly or being prepared to help others in an emergency, the swimmers of TBAY are making their impact felt throughout the community.

"Swimming teaches a lot of discipline and our team has a bunch of good kids, so we just do whatever we can to help other people," Kelsey said. "I guess that's just part of being on the team."

Got a youth athlete excelling? How about a team doing well? Then submit story ideas, feedback to bgalella@gmail.com.

.FAST FACTS

Tampa Bay Aquatics

Founded: 2002

Location: New Port Richey Recreation Center, 6630 Van Buren St.

Experience: All skill levels

Ages: 10-16

Other branches: Central, Countryside, Dunedin, West Chase, Hunters Green and Lakeland

More information: www.tampabayaquatics.com

Good Samaritans in Speedos 04/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 12:04pm]

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