Among the clubs represented at Riverdel was Bucks County’s own Penn Aquatics, who brought in about 30 kids of their own to receive professional training.
“They were excited,” said Penn Aquatics head coach Dean Hutchinson. “They’ve been to swim clinics before, but you don’t get to do it with Olympians very often. As soon as Ian pulled out his gold medals and let them hold them and wear them, then it kicked in a little bit more and became more personal.”
Hutchinson and Arluck have known each other since 2003 and when Hutchinson asked Arluck to bring the tour to the area, Arluck picked the first Saturday in June to be the day, and the sun shined for most of the outing. Hutchinson was in charge of marketing the event to swimmers and their parents.
“There were some parents who didn’t send their kids and they’re going to regret it,” Hutchinson said. “These kids here are going to go home and this is going to motivate them for the rest of their career. It’s that easy. Ian and Chloe are both great. They’re very good at engaging the kids and making them aware that they were once like them, shivering in a pool, wondering if they’ll ever be good.”
One of the main ideas that resonated throughout the day was for the kids to believe in themselves. Crocker, who was a teammate and rival to Michael Phelps, gave a speech in the middle of each session about his goal setting agenda and how anyone can be great.
Sutton hoped to instill Crocker’s image of self-confidence along with technique and a handful of other techniques, as well.
“The technique portion is important,” Sutton said. “But, with so many kids, it’s kind of hard to help their stroke too much. We do some drills and help them form good habits, but my main goal is for them to have fun, enjoy this experience, become inspired and a little bit more motivated. If they can make a connection to us and figure out that they can do it too, it’s great.”
Sutton looks to go out for the 2012 Olympic Trials, while Crocker is not sure of his future. He has had a lot of fun promoting wellness in Arluck’s tour and hopes to continue motivating young kids for the time being.
“It’s really cool when we get to travel because a bunch of teams come to one pool and we get a sampling of what’s in that area,” said Crocker. “We had a great group of kids so far this morning. It was a smaller group, but that was good for the age that they were. They were a little bit older and you could really connect with them. We saw a wide variety of talent today – some kids at junior nationals and almost at Olympic Trial cuts.”
The Fitter and Faster Tour has seen over 10,000 families at over 100 events across the country. While Arluck’s main passion is swimming, he hopes to eventually branch out to track and field athletes next and even basketball further down the road. For now, he wants to continue his trek in swimming, however.
“Clinics are a hard thing to do,” Arluck said. “It’s a lot more than just having a name and going out and showing up. You have to really be able to engage and give people more than what they paid for. We’re always looking for athletes who have accomplished a lot but are able to do all of that. And we’re always looking to improve and adjust and put on a great show.”
The parents and kids were all happy with the event on the sunny afternoon and were in awe of the talent that was in front of them. Overall, Penn Aquatics officials were humbled with the opportunity.
“Saturday was an awesome opportunity for the swimmers,” said Penn Aquatics club president Dave Shuster. “When I was a kid, I only saw Olympians on television. To have two Olympic athletes swim in the pool with my child was the opportunity of a lifetime. I am pleased we could present this program for the kids.”