HENRICO, Va. (WWBT)- Athletes and coaches are among those forced to stay apart in recent weeks, but one area swim club found a way to interact in person and give back to its community.
The pool is empty and the deck is quiet at NOVA Swimming in Henrico's West End. It's been more than five weeks since swimmers stirred the waters, and many have missed taking part in the sport, as well as companionship with coaches and teammates. After some thought, coaches came up with an idea.
"We decided we were going to do a NOVA car parade and canned food drive," said associated head coach Norm Wright.
This past Thursday, what has mostly been an empty parking lot turned into a traffic jam. Swimmers and their families filed through in a line and, if only for a few minutes, could see some familiar faces and enjoy some company- from afar of course.
"We had the people decorate their cars, our members, drive through, say hi to the coaches as we all stayed afar from each other and proper social distancing and so forth," Wright noted.
But this was more than a chance to say hello. Each family was asked to bring a canned food item to donate to Feed More of Richmond, and many went above and beyond.
"It was just bags and bags, 'oh there's more in the trunk, open the trunk,'" Wright said of Thursday's efforts. "They really want the city of Richmond and the surrounding communities to be a great place."
On Friday morning, coaches delivered the food to Feed More, and it was a bigger load than they ever could have expected.
“I drive a full-size pick-up truck and it was busting at the seams,” smiled Wright. “The whole back end was full, so I don’t know, that was probably a thousand pounds. Plus, we filled up another full-sized SUV full of food, too. If we would’ve had another 30 minutes of the food drive, it would’ve been too much to take.”
At the end of the day, it was an experience that only lasted for a little while, but one that NOVA hopes it's swimmers won't soon forget.
"We're always trying to teach life lessons through swimming. That was kind of the key, to tie it all in- give them something to look forward to, but also show them how to give back to their communities."
NOVA coaches estimate that about 300 cars took part in the parade and food drive. The club is home to 800 competitive swimmers, 1,500 lesson participants and 40 adult masters swimmers.
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