By John M. Rosenberg
Warrior Transition Command
WEST POINT, New York (June 14, 2016) – Fitzgerald described the swimming pool at Jaye Gatsby’s mansion as the place of a great dream. For many of America’s wounded, ill and injured Soldiers this pretty much portrays most pools. For them, the transparent and languid blue of a swimming pool holds abundant promise. Its soothing waters is a dwelling place of tranquility, liberation, as well as a space in which to attain athletic triumph and overcome fear.
Of the eight sports contested at the 2016 Warrior Games, the West Point Arvin Gym pool, with its chlorinated chambers, dampened poolside seats, and oversized U.S. flag, evokes opportunity and resiliency.
The gym itself was named after Cpt. Carl Robert Arvin, West Point class of 1965, a Rhodes Scholar finalist killed during his second tour in Vietnam, and awarded two Silver Stars.
The Army swim team, victorious in the past several Warrior Games, is composed of newcomers and Veterans alike. Making his first Warrior Games appearance is Spc. David Snipes of New Jersey. Though new to the Games, Snipes feels secure in his abilities. Cycling is his strongest event but, like most Army competitors, he relishes the opportunity to expand his athletic horizons.
Having been taught how to swim at the age of seven by an older cousin, Snipes is taking full advantage of the world-class coaching provided at Warrior Games. “I’ve never before had this level of technical instruction,” said Snipes. He states that he is especially grateful for this opportunity to improve upon his swimming technique as one of his goals in life is to compete in triathlons.
“Nose down, keep that nose down… that will help you with your rotation,” exclaims Army Swim Coach Atiba Wade as he carefully follows Snipes’ progress along lane number one. “Lift your chin forward when you kick, make that water boil with your legs, not just with your feet.”
According to Head Coach Bob Bugg, an SEC record holder and five-time NCAA All American, more often than not with swimming… it’s not necessarily the athlete who swims the fastest who wins, but rather the one who slows down the least. “Most world-class athletes are the same speed out in the middle of the pool,” said Bugg. “Where races are won and lost is in having a good start and in breaking the surface of the water after pushing off the wall.”
Now coaching his fourth Warrior Games, Bugg says that wounded, ill and injured athletes are specialists at knowing how to adapt. “Any coach should be able to take the same skillsets we’ve learned and apply them to the athletes,” said Bugg. “The important thing is in making it compatible for them to learn.”
Bugg believes that Team Army athletes also bring with them a built-in sense of fortitude, owing to all that they have endured. “It’s demonstrable in everything they do,” said Bugg. “They want to learn and to try everything. What’s key is that a competitive swimmer believes in his or her training and in themselves.”
Heading into Warrior Games competition, it’s only natural that swimmers will have butterflies in their stomachs. According to Bugg this is a good thing because it means that something is on the line. What’s problematic is when this nervous energy intensifies from being mere butterflies in the stomach into full-fledged anxiety. “What’s important is to control this energy, make it work for you in your race,” said Bugg.
For the members of the Army swim team, be they first time Warrior Games athletes like David Snipes, or experienced competitors with numerous medals behind them, the Arvin Gym pool, like that of Jaye Gatsby’s, will be a place where their dreams continue.
|Date Posted:||06.15.2016 18:26|
|Location:||WEST POINT, NY, US|
This work, Dreams of gold for Army swimmers, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.