Coach Harold Baker isn’t sure just how many swimmers he’s coached at the Williamsburg Aquatic Club over the past 40 years, since that first group of six kids came to swim in a William and Mary pool that had been built when Theodore Roosevelt was the President.
WAC now averages around 150 swimmers a year, some of whom have parents that used to swim on the team themselves.
“That’s been interesting, teaching the kids of folks who used to be on the team, and are now in their 30s or 40s with families of their own,” said Baker. “I run into some of our alumni a lot around town, which is nice, but some others across the country I haven’t seen in years.”
That’s one reason why June 29 is going to be so special: WAC is hosting an alumni meet at the Kingswood Pool. More than 80 people have already signed up for the event, with some coming from as far away as Oakland, California. There will be some informal races, a celebration of swimmers new and old, and pizza.
“We’ll get to see some old faces, the current group of swimmers will get to meet some of their predecessors, and we just get to have some fun and celebrate the last 40 years,” said Baker. “It’s just going to be great to see everybody.”
Of course, an even bigger celebration of WAC’s 40th anniversary is on the horizon, a banquet will be held Oct. 5, that will include an even larger group of the club’s alumni, including Katie Hoff, who after leaving WAC, went on to swim in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics where she won two silvers and a bronze medal, win several World Aquatics Championships and briefly held a number of U.S. Women’s swimming records.
As great as it will be to see some of his successful protegees again, Baker wants to emphasize that it was never about winning, setting records or even training an Olympian, as wonderful as all of that has been. Since day one, it’s been about passing on a love of swimming, and helping the kids in any way that he can. He said that has always been the WAC’s greatest success.
“Ever since the first group of kids, doing all we can for the kids, in the pool or out of the pool, that has always been the goal,” said Baker. “Always will be.”
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email email@example.com, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.