Longtime swimmer dives into teaching lessons
A California native, Mike Varozza grew up swimming, a passion that would lead him to qualify for the 1988 Olympic trials, compete in U.S. Masters Swimming and later motivate him to open a swim school.
"I found my way back in swimming," he said. "I've always enjoyed the sport and teaching specifically."
Varozza attended Texas A&M University on a swimming scholarship and later moved back to California. After marrying his wife, Gwyn, in 1995, Varozza decided to try again for the Olympic games in 1996 after he qualified for the trials in 1988 but did not make the team.However, Varozza missed getting into the trials by 3/100th of a second in the 100-meter butterfly.
The couple later moved to Austin in 2000 for a job opportunity, and in 2008 a friend suggested he compete with the U.S. Masters program. He joined the Longhorn Aquatics team at The University of Texas, and Varozza and his relay teams have set 11 world records in their age group.
"I had such a great time that I felt like I was missing out on my sport," he said. "A year later, Gwyn and I talked about how do I further that passion. In 2009, we started Waterloo Swim School."
Waterloo's program is seasonal and starts the Tuesday after Memorial Day and lasts for 13 weeks. Lessons are in small groups of four because Varozza said this size is the easiest to manage while allowing the children to have enough repetition with their skills. He said lessons also highlight water safety and teaching children how to be safe near water.
"We also are teaching the parents what to work on with their children when they're not in the class," he said, adding that lessons include a tip of the day.
Gwyn runs the administration side of the business, which allows her husband to focus on the swimming aspect. Curriculum is based on Varozza's experience with teaching swim lessons.
"We try to keep a fun and encouraging environment as part of our philosophy. What we found is that students will learn when they're in that environment and are more susceptible to try the new skills," he said.
Waterloo Swim School offers a variety of swimming programs for people from infants to adults.
Waterloo babies: For children ages 6 months to 3 years along with a parent to introduce the child to water and learn to swim to a parent underwater
Blue session: For children ages 3 to 8 to learn to be comfortable in the water and swim a short distance using arms and kicks
Orange session: For children ages 3 to 8 to learn breathing techniques, swimming on their back and stomach using fins and floating on their back
White session: For children ages 4 to 10 to learn how to swim without the use of fins and learn techniques for freestyle
Novice: For children ages 5 to 15 to learn freestyle with side breathing and backstroke
Intermediate: For children ages 5 to 15 to fine-tune freestyle and backstroke and learn breaststroke and the dolphin kick
Kid fitness: A noncompetitive program for children ages 7 to 14 to continue building on freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke skills and to build strength and endurance
Competitive training: For children ages 12 to 18 to work on skills in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly
Adult fitness: For anyone age 16 and older looking for a low-impact alternative to stay in shape or train for a triathlon; the group setting allows for workouts using drills and sets to refine skills
Waterloo Swim School, 11210 Spicewood Club Drive 512-921-9893, www.waterlooswimschool.com