by Jim Boyle
Members of Jet Stream Aquatic Racing will hold a swimathon starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 23 at their home pool at VandenBerge Middle School in Elk River.
Club swimmers will be challenged to swim 200 lengths, the equivalent of three miles. They are getting pledges ahead of time to raise money for this club, which numbers about 85 but still swims in relative obscurity.
Club membership has declined in recent years. No longer able to send flyers home with students from school, the parent-run non-profit swim club has turned to the community with this event in hopes for growing its membership.
In addition to raising funds for the program, the event is open to the public so families can come and see the swimmers in action and speak to members of the team and their families to find out more about the organization that’s part of USA Swimming.
The club has had more than 100 members in the past. Supporters of the program hope to reach that level again.
Jet Stream Aquatic Racing is a competitive club; however, not all swimmers involved compete. Some swim to stay in shape for their upcoming season or they participate in between other sports.
Nicole Hedman has been leading the Jets coaching team since October 2003. A lifelong swimmer, she started swimming with the ABC Swim Club when she was 11. Club swimming led to swimming for Anoka High School as a letter winner for three years, followed by a four-year swimming tenure at the College of St. Catherine where she was also a letter winner and captain.
Hedman graduated from St. Kate’s with a degree in elementary education and a coaching license in 1991. Most recently, she completed her middle school math licensure.
Committed to developing young swimmers, Hedman says she loves fostering and witnessing stroke technique and time improvements in her swimmers. Her favorite part:
“Seeing the look on a swimmer’s face when they ‘get it’ and they surprise themselves with their times at meets.”
Jet Stream Aquatic Racing is offered five nights a week on a year-round basis to youth ages 6 to 18, with most swimming being done at VandenBerge.
By having swimming five nights a week, swimmers and their families can pick the nights that work best for them and pass on the ones that don’t work.
“It’s difficult to get the word out,” Hedman said. “But we need to. Too often we hear from people, ‘we didn’t know there was a swim club.’”
That’s a shame, Hedman says.
“We do help the community,” she said. “This is a good sport for the kids to be involved in.”
Prospective swimmers and their families are encouraged to attend.