Organization of the month: Douglas Dolfins learn about setting goals as well as how to compete |

Organization of the month: Douglas Dolfins learn about setting goals as well as how to compete

Nancy Hamlett, Record-Courier staff writer

If practice makes perfect, then the members of the Dolfin Swim Team will soon be sporting webbed feet and hands.

Sarah Govan, head swim coach, is a serious taskmaster, and her team spends an inordinate amount of time in the water.

“Swimming is not meant for everyone. It takes a special person to deal with the sacrifices,” said Govan.

The swim team was established in the early 1960s and was unnamed until Father Bush dubbed them the Marlins in 1964. In the early 1970s, head coach Josie Graham renamed them the Dolfins. It was a seasonal team until 1989 when the Carson Valley Swim Center opened, and the swimmers could practice year-round.

Swim team members range in age from 5 to 18 and beyond with swimmers in the masters program.

“The only prerequisite is that I like them to be comfortable swimming one length of the pool and be competent in the deep water,” said Govan. “It doesn’t have to be pretty because it isn’t going to be. The most important thing is that they want to be here.”

According to Govan, swimming teaches lifelong skills, including how to set goals and achieve them.

“It holds over into all of life’s tasks,” said Govan. “Swimming is competitive in a healthy manner. Through all competitions, swimmers compete against themselves – their goal is to better their personal time. The kids in the other lanes are the carrot to make them swim harder, and a prize is just hardware, another carrot to encourage the swimmers. It all boils down to self improvement.”

Govan has been coaching the Dolfin team for seven years, with a year off to coach water polo for Washoe County. On her staff is Michelle Terry, who swam for the Dolfins for nine years before joining the coaching squad two months ago, and her mother, Susan Govan, who has been helping her daughter on and off for four years.

“In reality, I’m just the head mama,” said Susan. “Sarah is the one who inspires the swimmers.”

Govan’s goal is to have the swimmers in the water every day.

“If they don’t, they lose the feel for the water,” said Govan. “Water is a different density, and it takes some time to get used to it. If they are in the water every day, their performance will show the difference.”

Swimming is a deceptively expensive sport. Fees start at $55 per month for the first child, increasing to $85 for two and $100 for three. If there are four swimmers in a family, the fee is $115 per month. However, the fee entitles the swimmers to unrestricted use of the swim facility.

The team also offers one free week to any prospective swimmer.

“Swimming is not meant for everyone – a lot quit,” said Govan. “It takes a special person, and the free week gives them a chance to try it out before they sign up.”

“And the monthly cost is just the beginning,” said Arlene Lillegard, president of the Dolfin Swim Team’s board of directors who has three children on the team. “There is transportation to the meets and fees for each meet. We try to enter in at least one meet a month, so the costs are very high.”

Then there are salaries for the coaches, suits, shirts, equipment and insurance, said Lillegard. “The team needs a lot of money to keep it well oiled. That’s where the parents come in.”

Every year the parents elect 11 people to serve on the board of directors. From that board, nominations are made, and board members vote for four officers. Serving this year are Diane Altemara, Bill Austin, Sherwin Gormly, Gina Hames, Jeff Higgins and Barry Simpson, with Lillegard as president, Joe Stubner, vice president, Pat Sturgess, secretary, and Janet Osalvo, treasurer. One board position is vacant.

The board meets once per month on the first Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Douglas County Library when it plans swim meets for February, June and October, and organizes fund-raisers for the team.

“We have awesome supporters that help continuously,” said Lillegard. “We couldn’t continue without them.”

Lillegard wanted to thank McDonald’s, RDK Construction, Mark Smith Ties, Office Depot, Heidi’s Restaurant, Woodette’s, and BGS Building/Roofing.

“BGS has donated two yard sheds that we are raffling off,” said Lillegard. “If you win, the company will come out to your place and build it for you.”

The swim team also sells tickets for car washes at Superior Car Wash and holds swim-a-thons to raise money for transportation to the state meet. Fortunately, the state meet will be in the Carson Valley for the next two years.

But training as a swimmer isn’t only about being in the water. Dry land exercise is part of the regime, as are weight training and resistance training.

“We teach the kids to act responsibly with proper rest and nourishment,” said Govan. “Swimming is also a mental activity. We teach visualization and psyche them up. They receive a total workout. Swimming is a total mind and body activity.”

Although swimming creates individuals, Govan said that is one of the few sports that balances the “I” with the team.

“The swimmer is always trying to best a personal time, but they also know that by giving their best, it helps the team. It’s an amazing statistic that out of all college athletes, swimmers feel best about themselves. They are the brightest academically and that can be seen on the local level. Almost every one of our swimmers is on the honor roll,” said Govan.

“It’s also important that we feel like one big family. The kids are competitive, but in a healthy hammer. Swimming is a great sport.”

For more information about the Dolfin Swim Team, contact Lillegard at 265-3653 or Govan at the Carson Valley Swim Center at 782-8841.