I have followed with interest, the Berkeley Aquatic Club's initiative to build a state of the art aquatics facility.
It's my understanding that considerable debate has ensued over this facility and I am writing today, in favor of the BAC. I'd like to share my experiences with BAC coaches, athletes, and families and to ask for your support and BACK THE BAC.
One need look no further, than to the fact that Ryan Lochte has secured himself a reality TV show to know that swimming is one of the most popular Olympic sports. That popularity comes for a reason. Swimming is a good and wholesome sport. Its participants are good, hard working, dedicated athletes. And the families who support those athletes are equally hard working and dedicated. They have to be. Swimming is too hard a sport to do if you aren't "all in". Swimming requires a dedication, discipline and passion on behalf of both its participants and their supporters.
I simply can't imagine what my life would be like had I not been a swimmer.
I was taught to swim by BAC's stroke coach, Hank Buntin. Hank taught me at a young age that any pursuit of excellence starts with a solid foundation. He taught me to love to swim; not because I was fast, but because it was fun to try to be fast. Hank taught me how to set goals and how to go about achieving those goals with steady and consistent work. He taught me to seek new challenges, to not be afraid to try things I hadn't done before. I learned the value of teamwork in a sport that is largely individual. We learned to swim properly and we did it in a 4-lane pool with nearly 12 kids per lane. I wonder to myself how many more kids could have benefited had the facilities allowed for it. The BAC is in a position to expand to a new facility that would allow such positive life experiences to so many more athletes; young and old. It would seem tragic to not allow for such important life lessons NOT to be learned by generations, due to the fear of a few NIMBY opponents who can only imagine the worst.
As I progressed as an athlete, I went on to swim for Jim Wood at the BAC. Jim built upon the foundation that Hank had laid and taught me to work harder than I ever thought possible. He taught me that no goal was too high or too ridiculous to pursue. With Jim's unwavering support, and his incredible balance of discipline and encouragement, I competed in 2 Olympic Trials, became a member of the US National Team, represented my country in countless international competitions, became a Pan American Games gold medalist, and a Pan Pacific Games gold medalist.
I can tell you too; I did all of this, not a talented athlete. Not as one born with a magical gift. I was, quite simply, well raised and well coached. My parents were equally respectful of and dedicated to my pursuits. Their dedication fostered mine. They brought me to the pool each day; sometimes twice. Thru their dedication and that of the BAC coaching team, I achieved successes beyond my wildest dreams.
Over the years, my coaches taught me the value of hard work, discipline, and consistent effort. I learned that nothing comes for free. And even when you put in the work and don't get the return you sought at the onset? There is always value in the journey. Those values and beliefs have followed me from the pool, to the classroom at Stanford University and at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. They followed me to a trading desk at a major Wall Street firm and on to another at a top-tier investment firm in Boston. In a strange twist of fate, they backed me as my career took an alternate path, whereby, I had the courage to leave the stability of my financial services career and become a Professional Triathlete; a career that has allowed me to call myself a 2-time Ironman Champion, has brought me 3 top-10 finishes in our World Championships and has enabled me to call myself the best female Ironman athlete in the country. And yes, I have no doubt that swimming, and more specifically, Hank Buntin and Jim Wood brought me here.
Hank and Jim taught me to respect my coaches, my teammates and my competitors. They taught me to respect my body and take care of it. They taught me to set goals and pursue them with all of my heart, not fearing failure, but embracing the opportunity to try.
Again, I don't know what my life would look like without having learned the valuable lessons over the 7 years I swam at the BAC such as goal setting, discipline, team work, respect and a passion for an active, healthy lifestyle. I look at kids today; their penchant for video games instead of active play. I read stories of bullying instead of teamwork. I see the growing obesity epidemic and how it is hitting children especially. Then I think of all the lessons I learned thru swimming and how many problems could be mitigated for kids today if they'd just pack up a bag and go to the pool.
The proposed BAC facility would have a positive impact for thousands of swimmers of all ages, teaching them the same valuable lessons I learned and have carried thru life. I BACK THE BAC and all of the positive traits it instills in young athletes. I encourage you to do the same.
Dede Trimble Griesbauer
US National Champion, 1989
Pan Pacific Gold Medalist, 1989
Pan American Gold Medalist, 1991
18-time NCAA All-American
3-time NCAA Champion
Stanford Swimming Team Captain, 1992
2-time Ironman Champion
3-time top-10 finisher, Ironman World Championships
BAC Swimmer for Life