Outdoor pool closed Tuesday, 7/16 after 3:30 pm

The outdoor pool will be closed for swim meet Tuesday, July 16, 3:30-8 p.m. The indoor pool will be open for family swim with inflatables 4-6 p.m.

LJCC Barracudas are a family legacy and more

Three women are seated on chairs by a pool while a fourth stands next to them
Family members (l-r) Bailey, Helen, Monica, and Coach K work together poolside during a recent meet.

The LJCC “Barracudas” Swim and Dive Clubs have been part of the J for more than 60 years. For half that time, Helen Smith has been coaching the diving side. Fourteen years ago she was joined poolside by her daughter, Athletics Director Kirsten “Coach K” Thomas. New to the coaching staff this year is another daughter, Bailey Avina, while a third, Monica Hackney, helps out as the parent of a Dive Club member. She also happened to coach Coach K back in the day.

“Each practice ends up being a family gathering,” Coach K says. “We’re laughing and enjoying ourselves while doing the work.” Helen points out that it’s pretty rare to have three generations coaching and diving together. “It’s a thrill,” she says.

The Swim Club family tree (or reef?) is maybe a little easier to follow. Their coach, college student Aden Kraft, started fresh this season.

Coach Aden talks tactics with his swimmers.

These fish can bite

So far this year’s meets have seen many solid individual finishes along with lots of improvement thanks to plenty of practice. “I’ve seen incredible improvements in times,” Aden says. “But it’s also the swimmers’ excitement to try events and strokes that they’ve either never done before or thought they weren’t capable of.”

The clubs practice regularly throughout the week, and combine their practices on Friday mornings. Watching the clubs in the water, it’s clear that the coaches love what they do and are about passing on much more than just tips about good form. 

In addition to good teamwork and encouraging one another, both Coach K and Aden agree that listening skills are important qualities in club members. As are a bit of courage and a willingness to try new things — no matter if it’s a practice or a meet.

“I want them to get the most out of the sport as possible,” Coach K says. “We teach sportsmanship, discipline, and about how some dives take an amazing amount of focus. Once a member has conquered a dive they’ve been working on for a while, we celebrate as a team, which shows how important teamwork is in the sport. The team has your back — just like family.”

It’s not too late to join! Learn more about the Barracudas and sign up here…