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Chattanooga Penguins diving into competitive season

Nine swimmers on the Chattanooga Penguins Swim Team dive into the pool under the direction of coaches Lindy Blazek and her daughter, Megan Grass, twice a week at Brainerd Community Center.

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Chattanooga Penguins Swim Team coach Lindy Blazek; her granddaughter, Madeleine Grass, age 2; and daughter, coach Megan Grass, from left, work together as a family team to coach at the Brainerd Community Center twice a week. Madeleine said she likes to swim with the Penguins. She also likes to say “On your mark, get set, go!” to help out with coaching the team.

Coach Grass said she teaches the swimmers the back, breast, butterfly and freestyle swimming strokes. She also teaches them how to blow bubbles under water, do flip turns and dive.

As they practice and prepare for the competitive season that runs January-March, the swimmers typically complete 10 laps while practicing the four swimming strokes. The criteria to be a Chattanooga Penguin is the ability to swim 25 yards.

The swimmer must also be diagnosed with a cognitive delay.

Chattanooga Penguins will compete in the Area 4 Special Olympics Meet locally at Girls Preparatory School March 7. The team travels to Murfreesboro, Lebanon and Nashville for meets as well.

Teresa Molnar of Ooltewah, who is the mother of Chattanooga Penguins swimmer Jackson Molnar, has been taking him to swim for two years with the team. She said he is learning stroke skills and the concept of competition.

“He looks forward to every meet,” said Molnar. “He swims back and forth for one hour. It’s good exercise.”

Fellow Penguins mother Carrie Eaves of Ooltewah said she is impressed with what her daughter has learned working with the group’s coaches.

“Just in the last three months, my daughter Caroline learned all four swimming strokes,” she said. “She swam underwater modified frog style before joining the team.”

Swimmer Jason Rogers said he likes to swim the backstroke. Although he’s been swimming for 15 years, being part of the Penguins, which started two years ago, has taught him how to swim properly and efficiently, said his mother Caroline.

“Jason wants to be a Special Olympic coach because of the Blazeks,” she added.

Jason said he likes the coaches a lot and loves being on the team. North Chattanooga’s Emily Brown, who’s been swimming for as long as Jason, shares his enthusiasm.

“She looks forward to every practice,” said her father Philip, adding that her older brothers and sisters were swimmers and his wife “is a water person.” “It gives her something to think about. It’s the best physical exercise she gets. Swimming keeps her in good shape.”

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