Swim Club offers open water to non-athletes

Becky Olles

For John Kulesa and Kelsey Watterworth, the pressures and time commitments of Division I sports are more than they were willing to take on freshman year. And although Northwestern offers multiple sports clubs and intramural opportunities, Kulesa and Watterworth said they just weren’t enough.

The two McCormick freshman swam competitively in high school, and wanted to continue in college without making a commitment to the varsity team. They said they created the Swim Club earlier this quarter to provide an opportunity to other students who were interested in swimming.

“When I came to college, I knew the swim team was a Division I team and it was extremely competitive,” Kulesa said. “I just wanted a way to push myself without that time commitment, and I thought that other people would want to do the same.”

The new student group is recognized by the university but does not receive any funding.

“John and I are just taking it one step at a time,” Watterworth said. “I think he’s looking into some competitions for the spring, but I wanted to start the club because I thought it would be a good way to stay in shape and meet some other people who like to swim.”

About 20 other students, mostly freshmen and sophomores, also work out with the club at the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center. Practices last an hour and a half and take place four days a week. There are six regular swimmers and about five others who come sporadically, Watterworth said.

“It’s mostly John running the practices. We kind of do the same type of things every time, but it’s pretty different from what I’ve done,” said Ben Segal, another McCormick freshman.

Segal also said the club was a “cool experience.”

Members begin their 500-meter warm-up with freestyle strokes and continue the practice with various swimming drills. Swimmers share the four lanes allotted to the group.

“It’s a lot more swimming than I’ve done in the past, but it’s a lot of fun,” said Laura Oser, a Weinberg sophomore. “It’s keeping me in shape.”

The club is new, but members said they are dedicated and that the group eventually plans to compete against other college teams.

“I’ve gotten e-mails from other teams saying (they are) going to hold these events, so we’re hoping to get them started relatively soon,” Kulesa said. “I don’t know how realistic it is within this year.”

As the club begins to grow, Kulesa and Watterworth said they will continue to look for the enthusiasm and motivation needed to keep a club together.

“Everyone’s really excited,” Kulesa said. “I’m really excited to get off the ground, so hopefully we’ll get more members.”

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