By John Quinn
ROYAL OAK – A dozen or so members of Team Detroit Aquatics plan to step up into competitive swimming as they ready to participate in Gay Games VII, opening July 15 in Chicago.
Members will compete in a variety of swimming races and in the triathlon. The triathlon is a competition for truly motivated athletes, consisting, in Olympic rules, of a 1500 meter swim, followed by a 40 km bike race, followed by a 10 km run. The Gay Games will also offer a “Sprint” version of the triathlon, with distances halved.
One of those triathletes is Team Detroit’s general manager, Bob Knight, who competed in Sydney in 2002. This time around, Knight will not only try triathlon, but the component sports of swimming and cycling. He feels one of the advantages of the Gay Games is the opportunity to compete in world class sporting facilities like those built for Olympic competition in Sydney and Montreal. Knight admits there might just be a few medals coming home to Detroit this year.
Team Detroit Aquatics holds practices two times a week in Royal Oak or Bloomfield Hills. Each practice has five levels of workouts that range from fitness swimming to competition training. The team is affiliated with United States Masters Swimming (USMS), a national organization that provides organized workouts, competitions, clinics and workshops for adults ages 18 and over. There are currently about 60 men and women on the Team Detroit roster.
Holding together this group is their coach, Valerie Richardson. Twenty-five years of experience have given her an eye for detail and a passion for teaching. Pacing the edge of the pool, she notices flaws in form, and can quickly offer the practical solutions to correct them. A couple of hours of back-and-forth in a high school pool on a Friday night may be tough, but Richardson enthusiastically coaxes each swimmer to excel, to work at their personal best.
For information on Team Detroit Aquatics, check out their Web site at http://www.teamdetroitaquatics.org.