MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Contestants leap forward at the sound of a horn. Immediately after, a large splash vibrates through the air and cheers from friends, parents and coaches is the only sound heard.
A swim meet between the Iwakuni Tsunami Swim Club and the Fitness Ocean swim team of Iwakuni took place at IronWorks Gym aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Feb. 23, 2014.
The meet consisted of team relay races and individual races, that all added up to a total team score.
The swim meet not only provided the opportunity for competition between American and Japanese kids, but also provided the tools to strengthen their friendships and relationships. According to Mitsuki Ikeda, head coach of Fitness Ocean Swim Team, these events are great for support of good associations.
“I feel it is necessary to actively implement more of these events,” said Ikeda. “I feel as if this event helps us to serve the Americans a little. Implementing these sports helps us as individuals to strengthen our relationships.”
Sarah Nelson, head coach of the Iwakuni Tsunami Swim Club, said her swimmers love the chance to mingle with Japanese kids and compete in an environment that provides a new experience.
“All the kids are here to have fun,” said Nelson. “We tell them that yes it is a competition, but there isn’t any pressure; have fun, hang out and cheer one another on.”
According to Ikeda, full size pools in Japan are not common, so swimming aboard station allowed his swimmers the chance to gain a different, new perspective of swimming.
“The kids really enjoyed swimming aboard station in this great facility,” said Ikeda. “We are so happy to be here participating in this swim meet.”
The next swim meet is scheduled for May in hopes of providing the children more opportunities to meet Japanese friends, have fun competition and improve the American and Japanese relationship, according to Nelson.