BLOOMINGTON — It has been Teresa Fish’s experience that swimmers occasionally need to be rescued.
What the 17th-year Illinois Wesleyan coach means has nothing to do with drowning and everything to do with escaping or avoiding burnout.
“I feel like there have been too many swimmers that need to be rescued back into the sport,” said Fish, who is founding the Funky Fish Swim Club to meet that need.
The club, for swimmers ages 7-19, will train at IWU’s Fort Natatorium. It brings the number of Bloomington-Normal clubs that train and race year round to four.
“The other coaches in town aren’t real happy, obviously,” said Fish, who doesn’t plan to raid those clubs for swimmers.
However, some of those swimmers have already expressed interest in her club.
“What I’ve had more is they’ve quit already and they are looking ‘is this a chance to get back into it?’” Fish said.
For 17 years, Fish has been asked when she would create an age-group club.
“The timing is right for me,” said Fish, who will rely on IWU assistant Doris Matosic to help coach the club.
When Fish lived in North Carolina, she coached at the YMCA, club and high school levels.
“I hardly had anybody leave,” she said.
Fish has had swimmers arrive at IWU ready to quit. Many who gave her program a try stuck with it and some have gone on to become coaches or masters swimmers.
“I do have a philosophy and a vision for this team and that’s why I made it coach owned,” said Fish, noting the club has no affiliation with IWU. “I want it to be what I’m thinking and what I’ve done in the past.”
Even the club’s name reflects Fish’s philosophy.
“It is going to be fun,” said Fish, who won 14 NCAA Division III national titles while competing for Kenyon College.
Swimmers can preview the club from 6 to 7 p.m. Aug. 21, 22 and 23 at Fort Natatorium. The club’s official start is Sept. 4 with meets beginning in January.
Fish already had 27 signed up as of July 26. She hopes 50 register so she can hire two more coaches.
“I want everybody to reach their potential in swimming and to have fun,” she said. “When they are having fun, they work hard.”
There is a one-time registration fee of $50. The per-month cost is $55 for those 10 and under, $85 for those 11-14 and $100 for those in high school.
“I tried to keep my fees at the lowest I could,” said Fish, who can be reached via email at email@example.com.