Power couple coaches challenged athletes to swim

SportsSwimmingHealthJamie Brown

An ultimate water power couple has focused on improving the quality of life for challenged athletes.

Alan Voisard and Alison Terry, married for nine years, started working with challenged athletes more than a decade ago. But this year, they partnered with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to put on swimming and coaching clinics.

"I thought it was outstanding," said Jamie Brown, a physically challenged athlete who participated in a La Jolla clinic in May. "It was a great way to bring young and old together and different types of challenged athletes. There were double amputees, quadriplegics, paraplegics."

Bringing the athletes together was just the first drop in the pool for Voisard and Terry. They hope to teach a sport they say can improve balance, coordination, and fitness to a flood of new swimmers.

"Someone mentioned to me it's like a video," Voisard said. "That is part of what Challenged Athletes is presenting, like 'Hey look - watch this video.' This isn't as farfetched as this concept of 'I can't.' It's more of 'I can' kind of thing."

Voisard is the first person to swim across the English Channel, complete the swim around Manhattan, and the Catalina Channel crossing in the same year.

Terry set six CIF records while at University San Diego High School where her record in the 100 freestyle still stands. She also competed in the U.S. Olympic trials in 2000.

Individually, they have many accomplishments. Together the pair has their focus set on getting physically challenged athletes into the pool.

"I'm a coach," Voisard said. "My specific skills are pretty much taking an individual from whatever tools their using and bring a set of new tools or polish up how their using their skills and improving them. Not only for an Olympic caliber swimmer, but also for people that have basic skills but they still aren't swimming well."

"The response we got was so overwhelmingly positive," Terry said. "They're so grateful and I think for me is that people actually looked in my eyes and said, 'It was so worth coming down. I really got a lot out of this. I'd really like to work with you guys again. Thank you so much.' Just seeing that they really, truly, sincerely got something out of it, there's nothing better than that. It just doesn't get any better than that."

Voisard and Terry just returned from New York where they put on the second of four clinics planned in 2010. For more information, click here.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times