With four boys ages four through twelve, Beth Cornwell is a busy mom. Her daily focus is keeping her family organized and active, and NOVA of Virginia Aquatics plays an important role. Sons Quinn and Matthew swim on the NOVA team, while Beth’s youngest, Hayden, takes swim lessons. Beth squeezes in exercise by swimming laps three times a week at NOVA’s West End facility.
The Cornwell family is typical for NOVA, a non-profit swim club founded in 1987. Many families are first introduced to NOVA through swim lessons, then continue to participate in other programs. “Swimming is great exercise for everyone. It’s something you can do at any age. I wanted my boys to be safe around water and enjoy swimming, and NOVA has helped my family accomplish this goal,” said Cornwell.
NOVA strives to provide individualized training, promote excellence in aquatics, and instill in today’s youth the physical, mental, and social responsibilities that will help them become tomorrow’s leaders. NOVA owns and operates its own aquatic center, which features two state-of-the-art indoor pools, locker and shower facilities, and the Virginia Swim Shop, which sells a comprehensive collection of swimwear and aquatic fitness accessories.
A major part of the organization’s mission is to teach as many children as possible how to swim. According to USA Swimming, a child is 88 percent less likely to drown if he has participated in a structured learn-to-swim program. Since 1997, NOVA has taught thousands of children to swim; in the past year alone, instructors have taught over 5,100 lessons.
“NOVA plans to expand outreach in the coming years to reach even more Richmond-area kids,” says Lori Hopewell, NOVA’s lessons program coordinator.
More than 800 swimmers aged six to eighteen participate in NOVA’s competitive youth swim team each year. This program offers kids an opportunity to improve their swimming, while also learning important life skills such as discipline, time management, and perseverance.
Recently ranked fifth in USA Swimming’s national Virtual Club Championship, NOVA’s swim team is regarded as one of the best in the country and has received the prestigious Gold Medal Award. Head Coach Geoff Brown was named USA Swimming’s 2012 Developmental Coach of the Year. “Our focus is not only on creating great swimmers,But also on building great kids,” says Brown. “What makes our center so unique is our coaching staff. We have highly experienced coaches working in the lower-level programs. The beginner swimmer is met with a committed professional who has a sure hand when it comes to guiding the group. That’s a big part of our success.” A variety of clinics are offered throughout the year. Spring clinics are organized to help summer-league swimmers work on conditioning and perfect their techniques. Year-round conditioning programs for ages 11 and up are great for children who play other sports or swim for ftness.
NOVA also serves adults through a variety of programs. Those over 18 who want to continue swimming competitively can train with a nationally-recognized coach. NOVAFit is a program for adults who swim for ftness and wellness. Swimmers can take advantage of at least thirty hours of open-lap swimming each week to further their fitness goals.