Bear Creek Aquatics
By Melissa Hutsell
Bear Creek Aquatics offers San Joaquin swimmers the freedom and flexibility to be involved in different types of water sports while also balancing other interests. After recognizing that typical programs do not allow this, owner Tom Downer decided to open the alternative aquatics company in 2011.
“Typically, year-round swim programs are rigid, singly motivated and require quite a bit of a participant’s time. This doesn’t leave much time for other sport experiences,” says Tom. He recognizes that children need time for other interests, including school, work and other sports. Bear Creek Aquatics offers several activities including water polo, swimming lessons, competitive swim, certification and training for scuba, lifeguarding, first aid and CPR training for children and adults of all levels.
Tom’s experience in water polo, swimming and other aquatics sports began in 1971. His decades of experience as an athlete and coach sparked his interest to pioneer a program dedicated to all facets of his student’s success. “I researched swim articles, reports, and parent’s input regarding my process, looking at time, involvement, and unlimitedly, swimmer benefits of offering a program providing training two, three, four or five days a week, month to month commitment, and only 10 months out of the year,” he adds. Tom found that, “The results substantiated my curiosity. I’m not a big fan of the 10,000 hour concept and many of my high school swimmers (now) are outstanding examples of my program, qualifying for high school sections every year.” In addition, he found several advantages in offering a variety of sports at one location, including cost and time benefits.
The priority of Bear Creek is to find a balance between sports and grades. “I’ve seen too often, coaches get caught up with winning at any cost. Is it really that important to have 8 consecutive winning seasons?” he asks, “or children understanding there is life, jobs, and responsibilities after sports?” Trying to turn an athlete’s passion of his sport into a passion for life skills is the true measure of a coach. This is something that should be started as soon as a child enters a program.”
In addition to building character and confidence, Tom also teaches life-saving skills. “Lifeguarding, as I tell my guards, is the easiest, best, and the coolest job in the world, until something goes wrong. Once they understand the responsibility of being a guard and how someone can actually die if they don’t apply the skills they were trained to do, changes them, I can see the maturity and responsibility grow in them after one summer.”
“Our two, three and four day a week programs provide other options for the kids. As a swim coach, I encourage my swimmers to do other things. It makes life more interesting. I love hearing about the baseball, soccer, and other sports they’re in. If they move on I hope they take a little of what we had to offer in any future endeavors they choose.”
For More Information:
Bear Creek Aquatics
Bear Creek High School
10555 N. Thornton St., Stockton