Lenny Krayzelburg won at the Sydney Games in 2000.
By KATIE LIBECCO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg is hosting a swim camp for area children this week at the Jewish Community Center.
Fifty-six children from the five-county area are attending the week-long camp, which is the largest turnout among four similar camps, according to JCC Association Fitness Director Steve Becker.
Becker was Krayzelburg's swim coach in high school, who noted that Krayzelburg began teaching and coaching while in high school.
"He has always been great with children," Becker said. "He's a natural."
Krayzelburg won three gold medals at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and predominately swims backstroke.
"I really like the sport for what it teaches," Krayzelburg said. "It is important for them to understand the challenges."
The opportunity to host Lenny Krayzelburg's Olympic Swim Camp was opened to all JCCs of North America. Just more than a dozen centers applied and four were selected.
A camp was held last week at the MetroWest JCC in New Jersey. Krayzelburg will teach two more clinics in Boston and Springfield, Mass.
The Youngstown JCC camp will continue until Friday.
"I like giving this opportunity for the younger generation to learn about the sport," Krayzelburg said.
On Tuesday, the children were divided into two groups, ages 7 through 10 and ages 11 and older.
Krayzelburg was in the pool with the younger group, teaching stroke form and technique. After several rounds of laps, Krayzelburg offered to race down the lanes against the children, who excitedly agreed.
With the older group, Krayzelburg focused more on coaching the swimmers with detailed instruction.
"There are two or three swimmers here who have a lot of potential, who I can see doing very well," Krayzelburg said. "For them, I will give them more tips and go a little deeper in helping them."
After instructing both age groups, the children challenged Krayzelburg to two games of dodgeball, in which he lost one game and won the other.
Two more Lenny Krayzelburg swim camps have been planned in Southern California, which would be open year-round. More than 300 students have applied in the two weeks since the announcement, Becker said.
There are also plans for Krayzelburg to teach all-star swim camps across the nation in the near future, but the camps are still in the planning stage.
Krayzelburg said that his competitive swimming is on hold due to a recent shoulder surgery, but has not retired from the sport yet.
"I am waiting to see how it heals," he said.