Motivation, hard work, proper nutrition and a positive mental focus are key lessons Olympic swimming coach Nick Baker has brought to swimmers during a week-long swi m camp at Kenai Central High School.
Baker arrived Monday to begin the task of coaching and teaching 11 swimmers in a USA Swimming Area Camp.
The Peninsula Piranhas swim team, an age-group swimming club that trains at the Kenai pool, sought a high-caliber coach to come to the area in hopes of expanding and improving on skills of local swimmers ranging from 9 to 17 years old.
"I like the coach because he's teaching us new things to improve on (such as) strokes," explained Samantha Chase, a 12-year-old camp participant.
After coming across Baker's Web site, the Piranhas parents, with the help of local businesses, raised the funds needed to bring Baker and his knowledge to Kenai.
Each of Baker's camp sessions has entailed 2 1-2 hours in the pool and an hour of motivational work sandwiched around a short lunch break.
Baker has woven in his secrets and training tips throughout each session, and every participant has benefited from the experience.
Soldotna High School student Pehr Hartvigson appreciated that Baker takes the time to "work more one-on-one."
Some participants learned which stroke they want to focus on and practice.
Others simply enjoyed swimming and challenging themselves, or were excited about training with an Olympic coach.
Besides his experience in the 1992 Summer Games, Baker has coached year-round for 28 years. Along with a partner, he owns and operates two swimming camps located in Florida and California.
Swimmers of all ages from all around the world attend his camps, but he limits groups to no more than 25. Baker stated that the age of the kids doesn't matter, but "the person makes the difference."
Baker said his love for swimming was what brought him to coaching, and his relation to kids is what has developed his coaching career.
One high school student wants to make the most of the camp because "having an Olympic coach in Kenai doesn't happen too often."
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