LA CRESCENTA — Back in its 1990s heyday, the Falcon Swim Camp was a hotbed of development for competitive youth swimmers, where many of the athletes who have populated recent Crescenta Valley High aquatics teams got their feet wet.
"We've had lots of kids who became involved in the water polo or swim program who came through our swim camp," said veteran Falcons girls' water polo and swimming Coach Pete Loporchio, who operated the camp during its last run, which ended in 2000. "Bringing the tradition back is what we're trying to do."
When Loporchio was approached by Robert Miller, with whom he co-coached the Falcons girls' swimming team this past season, about bringing back the Falcon Swim Camp this summer, he agreed the time was right to try to reestablish the once-popular summer institution.
While it's starting on a small scale — as a four-day program that began on Monday at the school's facility with a class numbering nine students ages 6-13 — Miller sees the camp as filling an important niche for youth swimmers seeking an introduction to competitive training and for the school's own aquatics programs.
"We've got a ton of swim clubs out here, but a lot of them require a long-term commitment, they're more year-round programs," Miller said. "I was talking to Pete and thought it would be good to get something a little shorter-term …so it was just a matter of bringing it back.
"It's just providing a lot of opportunities to get the CV name out there and it's also getting our high school swimmers involved in the community, too. It's just tying back in with the community and to feed into both our age-group water polo and eventually into the high school program."
Current Falcons swimmer and water polo player Shiraz Arslanian, swimmer Josh Chi and swimmer and water polo player Adrienne Ingalla were all on hand to help Miller run the camp and get some experience in teaching.
"It's so much fun working with the kids because they're so cute and they already have so many skills, so it's just helping them perfect their swimming abilities," Ingalla said. "Here we get to play games and it's like you're learning, but there's a lot more hands-on stuff. I think it's gearing them towards joining the swim team."
Beginning with classroom lessons on form and technique, followed by points on proper stretching, the camp then moves to the pool where the campers are broken into smaller groups where they can get plenty of specialized attention from the coaches. Video is also utilized to help the campers grasp new strokes and proper form.
"We're trying to make sure all of them walk away faster and with a little better technique and a little more polished," Miller said.
For the attendants of Falcon Swim Camp, learning those techniques may go a long way toward a successful water polo and/or swimming career in high school and beyond.
"I want to try out for the water polo team at CV," 12-year-old Anna McCann of La Crescenta said, "so I wanted to practice my swimming.
"They showed us different ways to swim and get more speed, we're doing freestyle, backstroke, how to turn off the walls and start off the diving board."
Ghady Ghanem, 13, is also interested in playing water polo and wants to get faster and better at swimming.
"I've been reaching toward that goal," he said. "They're teaching us many strokes and how to perfect them."