THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) –A 7-time Olympic medalist visited the Thomasville Y Aquatics center Tuesday.
27-year old Zimbawean swimmer Kirsty Coventry gave a motivational talk to the student swimmers before performing a swimming demonstration and even challenging them to a friendly race.
WALB News10's LeiLani Golden explains what brought the champion swimmer to the Rose City.
Young swimmers and their parents packed the Thomasville Y Aquatics Center Tuesday for the chance to learn from a swim idol.
"How cool is it to have someone who's been to the Olympics come to our small town?" asks Thomasville ATAC & TCCHS swim team member Alexis Martin.
7-time Olympic medalist winner and world record holder Kirsty Coventry volunteered to speak to the Y after they offered a place for her to train while on Christmas vacation.
"My boyfriend's brother lives in Thomasville with his wife and two kids," Coventry explains. "So when we decided to come here for Christmas I needed a place to train. And they've been so kind to say come on in and use the facilities as you need when you need."
Coventry's strict training through both illnesses and holidays inspired the swimmers.
"She's so motivational," gushes Martin. "Today I came in here thinking I'm on vacation and don't want to get in the water. But after listening to her I thought hey, just push past it and you can reach your goals, too."
Coventry says, "It was good and a great experience. And the kids who jumped right in were so enthusiastic. And hopefully they've picked up some tips or been inspired to keep going through the hard training."
After performing a few demonstrations, Coventry challenged the students to a friendly race.
"I'm still pretty sick so I was breathing pretty hard toward the end of it," admits Coventry. "But it's funny because I'll get good comments and bad ones. You should have let them win or you should have swam harder. But I never want to get in there and just killed them all and have someone say I'm a showoff. That's not me at all."
Instead, she served as a role model of how hard these kids will have to train to reach their own gold-medal goals.
Kirsty Coventry has competed in the last three summer Olympics in Sydney, Athens, and Beijing.
She's won one bronze, four silver, and two gold medals and is considered a Zimbabwean national treasure.