MILLTOWN, NJ - The borough's Brookside Swim Club played host to Fitter & Faster's Swim Tour on Thursday with United States Olympian Nick Thoman taking center stage. Thoman has been involved with Fitter & Faster since its inception in 2009.
Fitter & Faster provides swim clinics throughout the United States and Canada with the goal of providing unique learning experiences for competitive swimmers through in-person clinics featuring Olympic and Paraolympic swimmers as well as through instructional online videos.
"The idea is to give them a little chat and tell them about my story and try to inspire them a little bit and get them excited about swimming," Thoman said. "Then, I'll demonstrate everything we do in the water. They (the swimmers) will do it a couple of times and then we try and give some pointers to every athlete that's in there (the water). We only have 37 today. It's a nice small number. We'll be able to see everybody and hopefully everyone will get a little bit faster."
Thoman shared his Olympic journey with the group of 30 plus swimmers and their parents after a brief meet and greet where the participants could pose for pictures and even try on the Ohio native's gold and silver medals. Thursday evening was the first of two Brookside clinics with Thoman. The June 28 clinic was for the older swimmers in the Brookside swim program while the June 29 Friday morning clinic is earmarked for the younger swimmers in the club's competitive swim program. Fitter & Faster does not charge swim clubs for the opportunity to take part in the noteworthy swim tour, which gives developing swimmers the opportunity to learn from the best.
Thoman won a silver medal in the 100 meter backstroke at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London and was a member of the gold medal winning 4x100 medley relay team. His story is certainly an inspirational one. Thoman spoke to the clinic's participants about how he went from being a mediocre swimmer freshman year in high school to being the number one backstroker in the country his senior year.
"Starting out, I wasn't very good," Thoman quipped. "Swimming was always my passion. It was always my greatest love. However, it wasn't the sport I was best at growing up."
Thoman talked about how he played numerous sports as a kid and didn't really begin to focus on swimming until high school, winning his first sports championship in canoeing. Success and progress came after dedicating himself to the sport in and out of the pool. Yet, success didn't come without disappointment. Missing out on making the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing was a prime motivator for Thoman's 2012 Olympic success.
"I rededicated my life for four more years," Thoman told the audience of swimmers after missing out on Beijing.
At the Olympic trials for the 2012 games, Thoman was back with one goal.
"I was happy to be there and have another opportunity to try out for the team," Thoman said of the trials. "And this time, I made it. And let me tell you something, making the Olympic team is one of the coolest feelings in the entire world. You know you are one of the best and it's amazing."
After his inspirational talk, Thoman and the teens headed to the water to work on starts, turns, underwaters and breakouts. The motivating evening concluded with an autograph session.
Thoman's silver backstroke medal in the London games was his first Olympic medal. He also won gold in the 2011 World Championship in the 4x100 medley relay as well as silver and bronze in the 2011 National Championships in the 100 meter and 200 meter backstroke.
For additional information on Fitter & Faster or to host a swim clinic, visit the Fitter & Faster website.