Brooks leads aquatics program at #8216;Y#8217;

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

FRANKLIN—When talking to Chris Brooks, he makes it quite clear that swimming is not his passion. It’s his life.

Brooks, 24, is the new aquatic director at the James L. Camp, Jr. YMCA. Brooks, who hails from Bradford, Pa., has been in Franklin a little more than a month and replaces Lori Weston, who took a job with the YMCA in Suffolk. Brooks has been a competitive swimmer since fifth grade and virtually grew up in a YMCA. His father was the director of the YMCA in Bradford for 14 years.

Brooks is graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a bachelor’s degree in business management and also of Pitt-Bradford with a bachelor of science in sports management and coaching.

As aquatics director, Brooks is responsible for the pools, training and certifying lifeguards, swim lessons, recreational swimming, new programs and the swim team.

Brooks said one of his goals is to get more people in the water.

“It is one of the best forms of exercise that I know. It has virtually no impact, so people who have problems with joints, knees, shoulders and elbows can do it,” he said. “It burns a lot of calories, and I think it’s fun. It works every muscle, including the brain, if you count that as a muscle.”

As for the swim team, Brooks will be more focused on getting kids to swim than on the competitiveness.

“I want to get as many people as I can to enjoy the water, because a swim team is not about winning at this level,” he said. “It’s about having fun in the water, improving your strokes, the social aspects and meeting friends.”

One thing that will change for swim team members will be the workouts, especially for those who are interested in competing.

“I have a different swimming style than what they are used to. My workouts are the same every day, just a different amount of yards,” he said. “There is a warmup, a pre-set, a main set, a kick set and a warm-down.

“For the older kids who look at this as a competitive sport, I will implement dry-land workouts, which use stretch cords, sit-ups, and pushups,” he added. “It’s things you can do on a pool deck. It makes them stronger and swim faster.”

Although Brooks is young to be an aquatic director, he said it is the dedication to the program, not his age, that will determine his success.

“If I’m an aquatics director, I never have to go to a job ever again. It’s not work; it’s fun,” he said. “I wake up and I’m like, ‘Let’s go.’”