Olympic games causes increased interest in swimming - WNEM TV 5

Olympic games causes increased interest in swimming

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

One of the most amazing Olympic moments in history happened Thursday night in Rio.

Simone Manuel became the first African-American to win Olympic gold in an individual swimming event.

The underdog taking gold is just one of the many swimming story lines that have captured the heart of the country. People like Manuel, Michael Phelps and Lilly King are now inspiring the next generation of swimmers.

Heritage High School senior Makenna McCartney practices two times a day, five days a week. She said that's what it takes to be a champion.

"Just coming to practice, just being here and working hard and pushing it every day," McCartney said.

The girls on the Heritage swim team are pushing harder than ever.

"It's inspiring for me because you can watch and see all the things you can improve on and definitely see them doing so great can inspire even the younger freshman coming in," said Kristin Mertz, swimmer.

Last year the team place 16th in the state. This year, with a little Olympic fire under their caps, they hope to beat that record.

"One thing we've been working on, just the way they dive is lift their heads up and launch themselves up. We've been practicing that," Mertz said.

Coach Kent Howenstine said in his 40 years of coaching he's never had such a large team.

"41 girls at this point. I'm sure it's because they like to call it the Olympic bump, where people get interested in it and see what's going on," Howenstine said.

With many state qualifying swimmers already on the team, Howenstine said he welcomes the added interest in the sport.

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