Fort McCoy News September 12, 2014

Michael Phelps swim program to be offered to youth

BY GENEVE N. MANKEL
Public Affairs Staff

Two Fort McCoy employees attended the Michael Phelps Foundation "im" Program training course in Baltimore, Md. earlier this year.

Photo for swim article
Participants in the Michael Phelps Foundation "im" Program training learn the fundamentals of the swimming-based program during a training session. Fort McCoy employees Cori Yahnke, Fort McCoy School Age/Youth Center director, and Jeff Utesch, Rumpel Fitness Center manager, attended the training to learn how to implement the program at Fort McCoy. Photo contributed by Michael Phelps Foundation

The program was named in recognition of Phelps' signature event, the individual medley, and as an abbreviation to the self-affirming, "I am," according to the Michael Phelps Foundation's website.

Cori Yahnke, Fort McCoy School Age/Youth Center director, and Jeff Utesch, Rumpel Fitness Center manager attended the training to learn the fundamentals of the swimming-based program, and how to implement it into the Fort McCoy Child, Youth & School Services After School Program.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America in partnership with the Michael Phelps Foundation and Kidshealth.Org developed the im Program in 2009.

"The program is designed to get kids comfortable in the water and to learn the sport of swimming while also teaching life-saving skills and healthy habits," Yahnke said.

Yahnke said the Fort McCoy Boys and Girls Club is the first to offer im Program in Wisconsin and is one of the few military installations to offer the program.

The installation is able to offer the program through grant funds awarded by Boys & Girls Clubs of America, she said.

Although not attended by Michael Phelps himself, the three-day training course Utesch and Yahnke attended was instructed by one of Phelps' former coaches. His mother and sister also attended to provide support for the attendees.

Utesch, who has more than 30 years experience with aquatics instruction, said he is really impressed with the im Program approach.

"It makes a lot of good sense in that it keeps going back to the basics," Utesch said. "It's not just a checklist of things to learn and be tested on, it teaches the overall skills of swimming."

Additionally, the classroom portion of the program teaches goal-setting and healthy habits. The program is a great opportunity to reach kids who aren't in traditional training lessons, Yahnke said.

Yahnke and Utesch are working to implement the program this fall. The eight-week program will be offered free to youth enrolled in the After School Program. Pending funding, the program could be implemented several times throughout the year, Yahnke said.

For more information about enrolling in the After School Program, call 608-388-8956. More information about the Michael Phelps Foundation and the im Program visit the website www.michaelphelpsfoundation.org.