New swim club ‘makes a splash’ on campus

A student on the swim team pushes off the wall preparing for a backstroke during practice. UNA added the swim club this semester and has 47 members.

UNA added a swim team to its club list this semester. As the popularity of the club continues its growth, more and more students are anxious to get their feet wet.

The requirement to form a club on campus includes a minimum of 10 participants.

When head swim coach Ryan Wolf, swim team President Stormy Spencer and Vice President J.T. Gilley walked into the meeting, they found 30 students waiting to sign up for the club — far more students than the staff anticipated.

Wolf said the person behind the program is UNA’s Senior Administrative Assistant for University Events Gigi Broadway.

Broadway said when she was hired by Director of Events Bret Jennings, he

took her on a campus tour. When they went to the off-campus book store and saw no UNA swimming shirts, she said she knew that had to change.

“He was showing me the shirts because I needed some UNA apparel. They had UNA bass fishing and UNA softball, but not UNA swimming. I told him my dream was to have a shirt that said UNA swimming.”

Her dream came true, as Broadway said the shirts will come in this week.

Broadway, a life-long advocate of the sport, is the adviser for the group. Although her role does not require her to be at practices, she said she enjoys being around enthusiastic students eager to swim.

“I go to most of the practices, since we’re just getting started,” she said. “I’m there to support them, and if there’s any questions, I’m there to help as well as to encourage. I’d say I’m there a good 90 percent of the time.”

Since the swimming season is from February to September and the first meeting was Oct. 6, the UNA Swim Team will have to wait until next semester to compete against other universities. However, competition is not the main priority for the members.

Wolf said one of the reasons for the growing success of the swim team is how relaxing and calming the pool is.

“We no longer have a beginner group, but now more of a medium class,” Wolf said. “The team has done everything right in a short amount of time. Feeling comfortable in the water is key with the opportunity to succeed against competition.”

Each week, members affiliated with the club recruit more students to join the swim team. As each practice begins, either some of the swimmers bring a friend or new faces join the team by word-of-mouth.

Even UNA athletes are joining in on the fun and taking advantage of the pool for extra exercise. Members from the cross-country team, basketball team and a few football players have reached out and participated in some swim team practices.

With the rapid succession of the swim team, some members are looking for more challenges.

“We are mainly doing cardio for right now, but I would like to do more (exercises) in the future,” said swim team member Josh Basham.

As membership has increased to 47, there is no sign of slowing down the team’s progression.

“The sky’s the limit for the swimmers,” Gilley said.