Anyone who has ever booked and paid for a trip for a group of people knows how expenses add up quickly.
There are travels fees, hotel costs, meals to be purchased, and any activities done will usually cost more money. Every additional person brought on the trip seems to make it cost twice as much, making travel by large groups seem impossibly pricey.
Now imagine multiplying those costs by 42, or by every member of the Fairfield University men’s and women’s swimming and diving team. And that is not even including coaches.
Every winter break, the swimming and diving teams travel to Hawaii for a few weeks of intense practice. However, as is easily imaginable, these trips get very expensive, and the team must foot the cost somehow.
That is why the members of the team sacrifice four hours per day for about half a dozen weekends in the spring to offer swimming lessons to local children. Junior Margaret Osmulski heads the program for the team, and said that the money earned will go towards their trip this coming January, where they have been going for the past four years, as their head coach used to be a coach in Hawaii, allowing them to get free pool time.
“This is my third session that I’ve done. In the past two, we made about 29,00 dollars,” said Osmulski.
This year, the team brought in more money than ever before though the program, bringing in around 25,000 dollars. The program also saw a record number of kids enrolled, leading Osmulski to believe that the program is just going to continue to grow.
“Pretty much the whole team participates,” said Osmulski, “you don’t have to do it, but most people choose to.” However, the members of the team have learned that it is not just about getting the money brought in; they also develop relationships with their learners.
“I find it to be a lot of fun, and it’s really fulfilling,” said sophomore swimmer Meredith LaBerge. “Like today, when I saw that girl swim for the first time all by herself, and I saw the smile on her face, it was really fun and great.”
“It’s fun team building, because we all do it as a team,” said sophomore Alyssa Acompora, “we all get in the pool together, we all make jokes with the kids … it’s awesome for us to raise money, and be able to go on our training trip, and these build all types of responsibility for us too.”
“It is [a fun event], and a lot of people do get babysitting jobs, things like that through it, and a sense of community,” said Osmulski.
The children meet with the same member of the team for each lesson, which helps the children establish a bond with their teacher, allowing them to trust them more, which can be key for the younger swimmers who are still overcoming their fears of the water.
“I’ve had the same family since I was a freshman, and I’m a junior now, and I’ll probably have them again next year,” said Osmulski. “It’s nice to see them grow.”
The swimming lessons finished the second weekend in April, and will pick up again in the fall when the students return from break, as they hope their learners use what they taught them all summer long in their own pools.
I chose to use the Google Maps feature for this story because the ground covered by the students I feel like is not well perceived just by reading about it alone. By seeing the distance, and looking at the websites of the organizations that they worked with, as well as seeing the pictures and the video of what their experience was like, the reader can best guess what it was like for the students who went on the trip.