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Olympians share tips with St. Charles Swim Team members

ST. CHARLES – Standing in front of about 80 members of the St. Charles Swim Team Sunday morning, two-time Olympic silver medalist Christine Magnuson told them she started from similar beginnings.

"Your coaches are probably better than mine growing up," the Tinley Park native said.

Magnuson and fellow Olympian Adam Brown gave the young athletes tips in and out of the pool during a clinic at the St. Charles East High School campus. They worked with about 120 swimmers in a younger age group on Saturday.

Swim team co-head coach Jon Cabel said kids need to hear about sacrifices, struggles and goals, so it's great when they get a chance to learn from an athlete who has excelled on some level, even if the athlete participates in another sport.

Magnuson, who earned her medals at the Beijing Olympics, and Brown, who represented Great Britain in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, said they enjoy leading such clinics.

"It reminds you where you came from," Magnuson said between taking pictures with the teens. "I came from a program just like theirs."

Brown said he loves to help and inspire the next generation of swimmers and to give back to the sport.

Although he and Magnuson are Olympians, he said, they don't do anything special or out of the ordinary. They simply try to perfect the basics, he said, adding he feels joy when he sees kids focus on what he's trying to teach them.

"They inspire us to work harder in our own training," Magnuson said.

Fifteen-year-old Johnny Tarpey of St. Charles and 17-year-old Taylor Falk of Batavia said they appreciated the opportunity to learn new techniques.

"It's always the little things that can change your stroke," Falk said.

Before entering the pool at the Norris Recreation Center, the young swimmers met the Olympians in East's gym. Magnuson and Brown shared their paths to the Olympics and answered questions, which addressed superstitions, eating habits and, among other topics, overcoming disappointment.

Magnuson said failure can be very hard if winning is your only goal. For her, she said, earning medals is not the endgame.

"I do it because I love the sport," she said.

Brown offered similar advice. He told the swimmers not to put too much pressure on themselves to perform.

"Swimming's all about having fun," he said.

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