From Vol. May 2016 “Mom and I” Magazine
Could you introduce yourself and the club?
Hello, my name is Michael Park and I am the owner and head coach of Aquaracers Swim Club. I immigrated to the United States 5 years ago. The Aquaracers Swim Club consists of 16 coaches and 600 participants throughout Bergen County. I live in Cresskill with my wife and two sons.
When did you start Aquaracers Swim Club and how is operated?
I have participated in the sport of swimming from elementary school through college. Even after I started working as full time, I have continued to swim and exercise as a part of my lifestyle. After earning my degree in Business Administration, I began working as a global institutional investment bank director. During that time, I believed that I was going to work while wearing a necktie for the rest of my life of my career in business.
I studied at the University of North Carolina as an exchange student not having any idea that my true vocation was to bring the sport of swimming to people in America. After coming to America 5 years ago, I wanted to administer swimming as a sport for people to enjoy. Additionally, I wanted to learn about America’s advanced swimming programs, so I began coaching at the YWCA of Bergen County and Kaplen JCC on the Palisades. In June 2013, I began Aquaracers.
It sounds like your club has a lot of members. Do you have special coaching methods?
As everyone knows America has produced some of the best swimmers in the world such as Michael Phelps. In South Korea, many coaches drive their athletes very hard, often to the point in which much stress is induced. On the contrary, I have observed that many American coaches, while offering much encouragement, they do not push their athletes in training and competition. The philosophy of Aquaracers is that it combines the best coaching methods from both countries. We also believe in providing much emotional support to our swimmers. Another distinction would be that our model is similar to Tae Kwon Do or martial arts.
The percentage of members has increased the past 3 years and has become widespread. 85% of our membership is non-Korean. Our retention and growth has been possible because of our fine staff. We have also gotten students from New York as well.
Would you say that there is anything about your swim classes that stands out?
Yes, last February the director of South Korea’s swim team, Choi Yoon Hee (a member of the 1986 Asian Games swim team ), and Woon Gyum Yoo, the coach of the Olympian Park Tae Hwan, visited our club and conducted a month long training clinic for coaches and students.
Explain the other benefits of the club.
Although it is important for clubs to have a good program, we have an effective policy which provides continuous and effective communication with parents to help build understanding and trust. This triangle relationship between coaches, students, and parents are essential in running a strong program.
How is Aquaracers Swim Club’s program set up?
In our program students go through a course of 6 levels going from the lowest (level 1) to the highest (level 6). Tae Kwon Do uses belts for each level while we use different swim caps for each level. The instructional period is divided into sessions, each lasting roughly 9-10 weeks. Each class is one hour and consists of small groups with the student-to-teacher ratio being 5 or less per instructor. In addition, we hold periodic evaluations towards the end of each session to determine advancement to the next level. After students successfully pass level 6, they become a member of USA Swimming and will get to compete at a USA Swim Meet competition as a member of Aquaracers Swim Team. The Swim Team trains during SCY (short course yard) season and LCM (long course meter) seasons 5 days a week. During each week, swimmers spend 2 hours in the pool each day. Additionally, 1 hour is devoted to dry land training twice a week.
Where are the locations for your Swim Club?
Our indoor sites are Ridgewood YM/YWCA, Bergen Community College, Ramapo College, and Boys and Girls Club of Lodi. In the summer, our pool sites include Englewood’s Tryon Pool and Glen Rock’s Municipal Pool. These locations offer options for people to choose which location is best for them. Our advertisement in Mom and I provides more information about our summer program. You can make your child’s summer vacation more meaningful by signing them up.
What are your future goals?
Aside from a simple, local swim club, I would like for Aquaracers Swim Club’s program to be known nationwide as a professional aquatics program provider. I would also like to add branches in South Korea. While it is presently a dream, I am dedicating myself fulfilling this goal.
Aquaracers Swim Club Summer Camp
At the summer swim camp, you will become healthy and have fun at the same time!
Due to our large numbers of swimmers Aquaracers will conduct a summer camp. This summer, there are 3 varieties of programs. Swim team practices would be held at Ridgewood YM/YWCA and Glen Rock Municipal Pool (outdoors) as well as Englewood Tryon Pool (outdoors) 6 days a week, 2 hours each during Long Course Season training.
There is also Pre-Team camp available at the outdoor pools of Glen Rock and Englewood 6 days a week, 1 and a half hours each day. The camps run between 6/27~8/24 (approximately 9 weeks), which is suited for those who are of advanced levels (i.e., levels 5 and 6) and up (water training and dry land).
The “Learn to Swim” Program is held at Ridgewood YM/YWCA, BCC, and Englewood Tryon Pool 1-3 times per week, which are suited for your child’s level. It is held from June until August (course of roughly 8-9 weeks). As we head towards the summer and the program is very popular, spots will fill up quickly and are reserved on a first come-first serve basis.