MOSES LAKE, Wash. - Sometimes the numbers just don't matter in sports. That's the case for the swim team at Moses Lake where effort counts just as much as time.
“At the end of the day you want to look back and say I participated to the best of my ability and nothing held me back,” says head coach Tony St. Onge.
This is a decorated program with a lot of success, thanks in large part to Tony St. Onge, the architect of the program.
“I think it's important to see what you want to accomplish,” St. Onge said.
While some want to accomplish great feats in the pool, others just want the opportunity to get in the water. As long as they give it their all, everyone has a spot on this team.
“It's kind of fun like free-styling back and forth, twice down,” says freshman Jared Grant
“My favorite sports are swimming,” added Chazz Johnson.
Jared and Chazz are two vital parts of the team, showing up every day, so they can do what they love.
“You know you have a bad day at practic or a race and Chazz is just like 'oh it's ok' you know, it turns you around,” said captain Austin Langer.
"I like hanging around them and have fun with them and like talk with them," Jared said.
"The fifty free is my favorite one and hanging with a bunch of my friends," Chazz added
"It just kind of reminds you that you know this is about participation for everybody and everybody becoming part of that team and helping each other out," said St. Onge
Everyone is allowed to chase their dreams while being encouraged by their coach, who knows better than most what it feels like to be challenged.
"I just do things differently. I brought my own chair today, that's all," said St. Onge from his wheelchair.
After St. Onge finished his college swimming career, he and his wife were driving in Alaska when their lives took a turn.
"That is when my life changed instantly, in about half a second. I hit black ice, went off a cliff 200 feet," said St. Onge.
He was paralyzed from the waist down, but his passion to help others only grew in the coming years.
"Makes you start to relaize what really is important. Even myself it is about being involved in life to the best of my ability.” St. onge stated. “Just like with Chazz and Jared, they compete to the best of their ability, I coach to the best of my ability.”
"He is like top people that I do know and I trust him," Chazz beamed.
Not slowing down, the coach still swims every morning, in his own pool of dreams, showing his team that in the water, they are one in the same.
"It is so ecciting. When people talks good about me, I am more into the team, player, than being alone," Chazz said
"I have been blessed with many opportunities,” said St. Onge. “A great wife, great kids that we adopted from South Korea, and all these guys over here. I am thankful I have had this opportunity."
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