On November 24, the St. Anselm Angels boys’ and girls’ swim teams lived every athlete’s dream when they got exclusive coaching and a private audience with Olympic gold medalist Jessica Hardy.
While in New York for the Golden Goggle awards, Hardy made special time for the kids and took her first-ever trip to Brooklyn just to preside over their practices for the day.
Giulia Surace, whose sons, Vincenzo, 11, and Giorgio, 10, are on the boys’ team, and whose daughter, Francesca, is on the girls’ team, said, “We are excited and happy for her to be here!”
John Adams, whose daughters, Caroline, 14, and Grace, 11, are also on the team, echoed her sentiments by saying, “This is awesome! This is really once in a lifetime here in Brooklyn. It’s so great to have her here at our pool, with our kids!”
For her part, Hardy also had plenty to say about her first experience in Brooklyn.
“How cool is it that it’s your coaches’ job to make you better at this sport?” she asked, thanking the coaches and organizers for inviting her to speak to the teams before continuing, “Swimming gets a bad rap, but I have a lot of fun doing it and I want to share that fun with you guys. If you practice, you get good, and if you get good, you have fun!”
Hardy addressed about 100 students and parents in the auditorium of Poly Prep Country Day School in between coaching sessions with both teams. During the sessions, there were relay races and exercises that included athletes attempting to kick their way across the pool with balloons under their chests. The kids were laughing and having a good time while learning valuable swimming skills.
Ted Ghorra, the head coach of the teams, was thrilled that after weeks of coordination, the event turned out perfectly. “Jessica lives in California, but she came here just for us,” he said. “She was awesome today!”
The theme of the day, as summarized by Hardy, was letting challenges in life bring out the best in you instead of getting the best of you, a lesson she passed on to the young swimmers during her time at Poly Prep.