The inspiration the Olympic Summer Games brings sticks around long after the games are over.
Sports clubs, teams and gyms see a boost in interest and enrollment every four years, right after the Olympics, many call it the “Olympic Boom.”
With swimming center stage in the first half of the summer games, Virginia Gators head swim coach Ned Skinner said the Olympics is something many teams and clubs rely on for recruitment, including his team.
Skinner is also the director of swimming for the Gators and has been to Olympic trials plenty of times, and so have some of the swimmers he coaches.
After the Olympics, Skinner said those same athletes become even more motivated and the swim club gets more new families curious about the sport.
“We have a huge lift in our enrollment and over my years in this sport, I have seen that trend. So we’ve been talking about this whole year, ‘hey we’re going to get that shot in the arm with the Olympics, let’s be ready.’ With COVID and what not we’ve been worried that maybe they were going to cancel because again that’s a huge feeder,” said Skinner.
From Aug. 23 to Aug. 26 from 4 to 5 p.m., you can get a free week to try out the club.
Skinner said while the Olympics may inspire you or your child, the goal is really to have fun and that’s regardless of the sport or the team you do it on.
Gymnastics is another sport that captivates audiences during the Olympics.
We’ve seen the adorable viral videos of kids watching the gymnastics competitions while trying to do a somersault, cartwheel or walking on an imaginary balance beam. That initial excitement is what brings kids in the doors and on the mats in large numbers at local gymnastic centers for the first time, like Virginia Techniques in Christiansburg.
Gymnasts and coaches agree, people tend to forget about gymnastics, but every four years during and right after the Olympics it’s a reminder of how incredible the sport is and the inspiration it brings.
Grace Wassun trains and coaches at Virginia Techniques and said watching Simone Biles and the rest of Team USA compete was motivation.
“I come into the gym and think ‘wow,’ you see how far she comes and I want to be like her so I come in and work even harder,” said Wassun.
She said you are never too old to start gymnastics and hope people will take the chance on the sport.
The gymnastics center’s owner and director, Cheryl Johnson, said the Olympics also sheds light on where your hard work can get you.
“Whether you’re a beginner all the way through the elite level, it (Olympics) gives them a good introduction to all they can accomplish by taking gymnastics classes,” said Johnson.
She wants people who are looking to gymnastics to see how gymnastics can help in other sports and activities. For example, Virginia Techniques has a ninja zone that features martial arts and parkour.