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Olympic hopeful Grothe inspires next generation of swimmers

MacIsaac Armstrong, 16, Maggie Armstrong, 14, and Gracie Armstrong, 11, all aspire to be accomplished swimmers some day. On Saturday, Sept. 15, the siblings and members of the Boulder City-Henderson Heatwave swim team, got a firsthand look at what it takes to succeed.

Zane Grothe, a former Heatwave swimmer and member of Team USA, returned to his hometown for a swim clinic at the Henderson Multigenerational Pool. He joined Heatwave coach Mike Polk to offer advice and swim tips.

“I brought a little bit of everything I’ve learned from every clinic I’ve done. The turnout was great and the kids and parents really seemed to enjoy it,” Grothe said. “I thought the clinic went phenomenally.”

He said he had always wanted to give back to the team that gave him so much.

Grothe offered lessons on proper stroke techniques as well as helping swimmers with their turns and starts, giving everyone individual attention throughout the hour and a half session.

“The clinic with Zane was very motivating for my kids,” said Suzanne Armstrong, the trio’s mother. “The time outside of the pool when he gave swim and life advice was as beneficial as what happened in the pool. I think the fact that Zane is 26 and just beginning to actualize his full potential as a swimmer is so inspiring to many kids who love the sport and work hard but are not necessarily the best. Zane is a great example of hard work, persistence and dedication to his sport.”

MacIsaac Armstrong said he enjoyed the water portion of the clinic most, getting firsthand coaching from Grothe on substantial technique fundamentals.

Above all else however, swimmers just wanted the opportunity to compete against the future Olympic hopeful.

“My favorite part of the clinic was racing Zane in a 25-meter freestyle,” MacIsaac Armstrong said. “He gave us many tips and technique advice for our starts. It was fun to put it into action, racing in the lane beside him.”

Seeing noticeable differences for many of the swimmers, Grothe said he relished in the opportunity to help the next generation.

“I absolutely saw improvement out there,” Grothe said. “One of my favorite parts of a clinic is slowly progressing from kick to drill to swim and when we get to the swim, I asked the coaches and the parents what they think. The strokes usually look 10 times better than normal.”

Grothe’s star status resonated with his pupils, who soaked up everything they could.

“It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience to learn from someone who has already made such an impact on the sport,” said 16-year-old Lauren Olsen. “It gave a new context to the things he taught us, even if we’ve heard them before. It’s incredible that someone who has trained under the same coach and gone through some of the same workouts we have has achieved his level of success.”

Grothe talked about the journey that has lead him to success, including his failures.

Starting out with the Heatwave as a child, Grothe has blossomed into one of America’s top swimmers, recently being selected to represent Team USA at the 2019 World Championships next summer in Gwangju, South Korea. In August, he set a meet record in the 800-meter freestyle race at the U.S. Swimming Championships.

Grothe provided tips for swimmers inside and outside of the pool, including how to take care of your body physically and mentally.

“I felt like Zane’s message of persevering through setbacks, plateaus and real or perceived failures is very relevant to every swimmer,” said Renee Olsen, Lauren’s mother. “The clinic was an incredible experience both as a parent and for my daughter. Zane’s humor, humbleness, perseverance and genuine love of swimming was communicated to all who attended. For him to come back and volunteer his time and knowledge was amazing. Each child left feeling like he or she had a connection with him.”

“Overall the experience was very eye opening and provided me with an once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Josie McClaren, 13. “It was very extraordinary to learn the techniques and tips from such an amazing swimmer. I think the knowledge that he gave me will help me achieve my goals in swimming in the future.”

Contact Robert Vendettoli at BCRsports@gmail.com.

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