Olympic fever spreads through Green Country

Thursday, August 14th 2008, 4:06 pm
By: News 9


TULSA, Okla. -- Olympic fever continues to spread through Green Country. As Michael Phelps continues his assault on the record books, young swimmers are determined to be like their hero.

Local swim instructors said their sport usually experiences a surge in popularity during every Olympics, but they believe Michael Phelps may do more for swimming than anyone else ever has.

McKenzie is only five, but she's no stranger to the pool. She's already been swimming for a year and a half at the Miller Swim School near 61st and Mingo, and as always, mom looks on from the waiting room.

"I think she keeps wanting to do it.  As long as she wants to, we'll keep encouraging her to do it," said Kim Nino.

Dozens of kids worked on their strokes Wednesday afternoon. Some overcame their initial fear of the water, and jumped right in.

Instructors said their kids always work hard, but many are even more determined this week after watching their hero.

"They're all excited. They come in; they want to be like Michael Phelps as well," said Jim Carnley of Miller Swim School.

Carnley, who has taught swimming for 14 years, said it's rewarding for his sport to be in the national spotlight. It happens every four years, but he said the Phelps Phenomenon has generated even more attention.

"During the Olympics, we always get a little push from the coverage we get on TV. Kids get a little more fired up, and well as parents too," said Carnley.

As Phelps continues his quest for a record eight gold medals at a single games, Carnley hopes more Green Country parents will encourage their kids to give swimming a shot.

"People don't realize how hard it is to swim in the water, and swim those four competitive strokes he does. It's amazing," said Carnley.

Miller Swim School said its primary goal is to teach kids how to be safe around the water.

The kids who are really into it later move up and join the school's competitive swim team.