Area26 SPECIAL Stay at home
April 2020 | Issue 8.1
Swimming in the Family Room...
GMU Swim Coach Hannah Walden with Global Messenger Kyler Reese back when they could meet at the pool...
Kevin Bennett's warmup stretch
One of the hardest hit sports in the COVID pause is swim. Most ball players, runners, etc. can at least do skills work in their yard or on a nearby field. To swim, you need a pool - an open pool. A bathtub just won't do it.

GMU Swim Coach Hannah Walden had an idea about how to keep their team's heads "above water". Both GMU and the Sea Lions are hosting online dryland workouts on Zoom.

Hannah, who has been swimming herself since she was 7, has been the coach at Mason since 2013. She works with athletes at all levels, from water safety to skills to medal competition.

I spoke with her last week, to find out about both the idea and how it is all working out - here is some of our interview:
Q: When did you have the idea of moving from the pool to the computer screen for workouts?
A: When I found out that the State Meet for the year was canceled, I was devastated. The athletes and I both look forward to the competition and events every year, and we lost the whole season. After missing my team for about three weeks, and seeing all of the activity on Zoom come up, I got the idea to structure a workout so I could see and talk to my swimmers again.
Q: How long have you been in swimming yourself?
A: Over 20 years - first doing NVSL at my local pool, then with Robinson HS, and all the way through college at both the Coast Guard Academy and at GMU.
Q: How did you get involved in Special Olympics?
A: A swim friend of mine, Leanne Hyer, was coaching SO while she was a student. She asked me to help out, and basically, it stuck. I have been coaching at GMU since 2013. I love my team, and really missed them when we had to stop. I am so glad we get to meet online right now.

Q: What is your favorite memory of SO Swim?
A: I guess it was when one of my swimmers, Stephanie, who started out being challenged to finish a 25 yard swim (one length of the pool) finished her first 50 yard race. She can now do 100s - it made me so proud.

Q: Any last thoughts?
A: Make sure you talk to your families and friends right now. It is easy to get lonely, but just keep going, and we will all be back next season!!
Another Team Bonds...
Sea Lions Coaches Elizabeth Emanuel and Jenni Henry had a similar idea for their team to stay engaged and support each other during this sports hiatus. The members of their 5 year old team were all very sad to find out there would be no water season this year, and they all wanted to stay together somehow. I spoke to the Coaches to hear a bit about their program and its objectives:

Q: When did you have the idea of creating a swim social support group for your team?
A: (Elizabeth and Jenni): Our team is young and a lot of what we work on is team building. Swimming is in many ways an individual sport, but cheering your fellow swimmers on is a HUGE motivator and makes a difference. We even do our team cheer at the end of the Zoom session with hands in!!

Q: How often do you meet?
A: Every other week for an hour. We send out some questions in advance, and we try to talk about one swim topic and one other topic each time. Last week we ended up having a long discussion of Harry Potter.

 Q: How long have you each been swimming and how long coaching Special Olympics?
A: (Elizabeth): I swam competitively for about seven years growing up. I actually started SO coaching doing bowling (NOT my best sport), and got a call from Veronica Jennings to help set up the Sea Lions when they started,
A: (Jenni): I started in the pool at age 5, and kept going all the way through Club swimming in College. I have coached and taught swimming for years, but have been with Special Olympics and the Sea Lions for the last three.
Q: What is your favorite moment with the Sea Lions?
A: (Elizabeth): It is hard to pick one. Every season the first meet of the year is very special, as is giving the swimmers their medals and certificates at the end of the season, but if I HAVE to pick one...we have four skills swimmers (two of them twins) who were at the State meet two years ago, and they all got to swim their event with me in the water in the main pool with the whole crowd watching. They rocked the event with a big audience - it was so special to be a part of it.
A: (Jenni): Elizabeth is right - it is hard to pick one - I love watching the swimmers become aware of how much they can really do in the water, but my favorite memory is when during one of the meets we had two team swimmers going one right after the other in the same lane, The first swimmer didn't want to go back to the team area till he had finished cheering on his teammate in the next heat. THAT made it feel like a real team experience!!
Sea Lions in better times...
More than one way to stay active
Many athletes have spent time on other avocations in an effort to avoid living on the couch. Cooking and baking special foods and meals at home is a great replacement for all of the eating out or ordering in that we all do normally. Here are a few...

Baker Baker (Olivia Baker that is...) has taken to the kitchen to make us all jealous of treats that she gets to enjoy with her family - lemon cookies, in this case...
Allie Robbins created her own Pack of friends for her pooch with this collection of "dog biscuits".
Stephen James has perfected a new family favorite - Chicken Enchiladas a la Stephen
Ben Fowler (who we saw last issue growing greens...) also does clay modelling (another non-TV based activity). Here he is getting his Sneetch on!!

While we are ALL happy that Netflix, Disney+, HBO and such give us something to do for all of the down time, we should copy Olivia, Ben, Stephen and Allie and spend some of our time (after exercising...) away from the screen.
BASH online...
  • by Patrick DeLapp and Barry Tilton
BASH Boxing is a fitness studio in Arlington that offers group workouts combining boxing and High Intensity Interval Training. One of the owners, Scott Parker, is a friend of the Northern Virginia Special Olympics Program. He has dedicated time and resources to helping fundraise and raise awareness for the Special Olympics. 

In the February Edition of this newsletter, we reported on the first Special Olympics BASH class.

Scott had planned on doing many more classes, and will do more once we are back to the normal swing of things the meantime the Area has partnered up again with BASH for a series of 4 at-home workout videos! They are provided and made for everyone involved with Special Olympics to use!
The coaches loved interacting with the athletes so much and look forward to working and training with them again. 

Thanks to BASH coaches Jonathan Nampha and Brett Eaton for taking the time to create great workout videos for us! Also a huge shout out to owner and founder Alex Trakas for coordinating all of this with us!
Please take a moment out with your families to talk about all of the special things that the health care, first responder, grocey worker, post office, sanitation and transportation communites are doing for us during this very unusual and challenging time - we are thankful.
Our athletes on the move...
Exercise and activity are the key to staying healthy and are some inspirations!!
The Fit-5 Fitness Buddies team are still maintaining daily workouts...
Kyler Reese during a Krav Maga workout
Chris Robinson crunching out some situps
Tom Merz keeping up the pushups
...and MANY other athletes have all picked up the habit..
Jaylen Sawyers defying gravity
with a heavy bar...
...and the result!!
Rick Schneider... "corner pocket"
Jeff Cogswell building muscle...
Amir Malik and his sister on a 2 hour walk
Zach Fowler Kinecting with his
Ping Pong passion
Vivian and Marisa Alonso out boating
Max Hershberger HIGH STEPPIN!!!
Catie Cunningham
Performs Perfect Pushups
Eve Lotterer in an inversion - is SHE upside down, or is the Earth?
Powerwalker Joey Messaros keeping up the mileage indoors
Jeffrey Eskridge pulling off a (super hard!) one-arm push up!
Sonny Hernandez getting some REAL social distance on the Appalachian Trail
Trail rider Noah Lelchook about to head out
CJ Waller exercising his brain on a
1000 piece puzzle
Kyle Holdener driving RC on the now-otherwise-empty roads of VA
Zach Fowler at FULL intensity
Alex Hansen doing dryland swim exercises - or is he holding the wall up?
Joey Messaros in his new home weight room
The Hoang Phan Bridge
Sean Minnick raising the weight
Jay Choi pumping some neurons!
Darryl Gray workin' abs
Ryan McMahon struttin...
Baller Taylor Clause in action
Allie Robbins pitching for the Corn Hole
Austin Ward working out with roomate/ Fitness pal Tom Merz
Tyler O'Hara showing mad skilzzz
PK Kelly and Celeste Fernandez putting the moves on each other
Meredith Cripe going for a shot
Olivia Baker wandering the campus at Alabama - no one in sight...
After viewing the Easter Bunny on an outing in the family car, athlete David Vonack makes an Easter Bunny mask to bring a smile to safety.
All Together Now...
Cheer Coordinator Jay Hoffmeier sent these great shots (above) of his coaches Jennifer Hoffmeier-Lincicome, (also a Zumba instructor), Dr.Katherine Martin and Dannielle Sherrets (below) running joint Cheer and "Zoom"-ba classes with their entire team.
Parting thought...
If there was ever a time to be brave in the attempt, it is now.
Everyone stay safe and we will hopefully see you in the Fall.
For now, keep the pictures and stories coming !