It’s safe to say Catherine Fox knows her way around a pool. She won an Olympic gold medal for her ability to find her way from end to end. Partnering with Swim Jim owner Jim Spiers, a trainer for 2012 Olympics Bronze medalist Lia Neal, the pair transformed their expertise into a curriculum that helps others learn to love the water as they do. The resulting program, titled the Underwater Schoolhouse, forms the cornerstone of every class held at SwimJim.
Teachers take on students of all ages, focusing first on helping to cure land dwellers’ inherent nervousness around water. To do this, they use a combination of encouragement and humor, never pushing a student further than they’re willing to go. Once students take the plunge, the coaches focus on teaching the mechanics of a variety of strokes, such as how to kick during breaststroke or how to emerge gracefully from the chrysalis before butterfly stroke.
Bayou City Outdoors' hundreds of members didn't join just for the myriad events, though it would be understandable if they did. The site's events calendar buckles under the weight of a packed schedule, with activities from bike rides and kayaking trips to art gallery openings and nights of dancing. But the outings are only the beginning of the member perks. The team at Bayou City plug their members into a buddy system that puts enthusiasts in touch with other members. Buddies can share outdoor gear with each other, or meet up for group outings. Members also get opportunities to learn about cutting-edge equipment through free demos, and enjoy discounts at outdoors-oriented local stores like REI and Urban Bike Gallery.
Some swim coaches can only tout their credentials and experiences, but director Susie Collins can prove the results of her labor. One of her pupils is working toward swimming in the Olympics, and a thrilled parent recently praised her ease and dedication in teaching their special-needs son how to swim. All the academy's instructors receive training in water safety, stroke curriculum, and child development directly from Collins, who also teaches games and techniques to motivate even the most stubborn inflatable alligator. Students learn at their own pace, following Collins's stage-by-stage method that leads toward individual swimming goals, whether students want to compete professionally or use their butterfly stroke to blend in at the local dolphin tank.
Trainer and fitness guru Justin Bradshaw modeled SGT. H20's CombatSwim after the rigorous training he received as an Army diver. His challenging exercises encourage full-body fitness, using workouts that build stamina, boost metabolism, improve swimming skills, and promote weight loss. Incorporating the best of land-based cross-training systems, CombatSwim includes plenty of high-intensity interval training and pulse-hiking calisthenics. In the pool, water adds extra resistance that amplifies the effects of the exercises, which include swimming sprints, endurance swimming, and treading water with weights. Designed to sharpen the mind as well as the body, CombatSwim leaves exercisers with the same confidence and conditioning as some of the world's elite military warriors.
The Total Jingle Bell Run & Walk spurs more than 5,000 antler-clad participants to swarm through downtown Houston in the name of charity, fitness, and celebration of the holiday season. Like Santa's reindeer before the sleigh got GPS, the event explores several different routes, including a 5-mile course for runners and a shorter, less intense 3-mile course for families. After everyone has crossed the finish line, awards honor the fleetest of foot in each age group, as well as individuals donning the best holiday-themed costumes. All proceeds raised by the race get poured into the YMCA's partner campaign, which provides scholarship money to those in need of academic aid.
As the indoor swimming arm of the Gigglin Marlin Divers and Swim School scuba-diving school?recently named Houston's best by the Houston Press?Gigglin Marlin Divers and Swim School entices water persons with a saltwater pool of titanic proportions. The facility's 75-foot long, up to 15-foot deep heated saltwater pool plays host to a crowded schedule of activities. The watery fun includes swim instruction for those less than 1 year old as well as adults. Regular times are also set aside for lap swimmers and indoor scuba sessions in which divers explore the saltwater pool's mysterious depths.