Creating friendships through swimming

DE PERE, Wis (WBAY) The pool inside St. Norbert College's new Mulva Family Fitness and Sports Center hosted some special guests Thursday.

It's another example of how a partnership between educational neighbors is creating lasting friendships.

For students at Syble Hopp School, visiting St. Norbert College is nothing new.

"We're only a mile down the street from here, and we've had a long history with St. Norbert, and it's a great partnership, a lot of the values that they hold we also hold with community outreach and service and giving back," says Todd Gehring, a Syble Hopp teacher.

Thursday's field trip to the college, though, is a first for these high school-age students.

With the college now fielding its first competitive swim team, the athletes are inviting the Syble Hopp students into the pool.

"And you know that you're making an impact on the community, because you can see them smile, so adorable and so much fun," says Miranda Wilson, a St. Norbert freshman swimmer.

"Any time you help someone else or interact with someone in the community, you get a big lift out of that. I think being tied into the Green Bay area or De Pere area is super important to our program, so for our athletes to participate in that, I think they feel like they're more part of not just the college but also the fabric of what Green Bay is," adds St. Norbert swim & dive head coach Franco Pacheco.

For the students at Syble Hopp, who have intellectual or other developmental disabilities, the hour in the pool provides physical activity and lessons in water safety, among other benefits.

"With the swim team being present, it's a great chance to form friendships and to have them mentor our students to, so it's a win-win all the way around," says Gehring.

This activity takes place every few weeks, with different age groups from Syble Hopp enjoying the St. Norbert pool and time with the student-athletes.

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