Grabbing a latte after yoga, taking a relaxing walk or jog with friends to catch up, mountain bikers and hikers texting one another about what time to meet up at the trail heads, these all seem to be an integral part of the culture here. You could easily say that Verrado is very active.
We’re inspired by our athletes here and we thought it would be interesting to profile a couple of super Verrado residents. It’s a chance to learn how they turned their healthy lifestyles into successful careers helping others achieve their goals. Hopefully their stories will inspire you to turn off the big screen and get outside!
This week, we introduce you to swim Coach Sarah Byers. Next week, we’ll talk about how to spark your Namaste with Ignite Yoga yogi Eva Shaw.
Meet Coach Sarah Byers, Vitras Swim Club, Verrado
In a town where you can swim outdoors comfortably all year around, Verrado is fortunate to have an award-winning swim team. The Vitras Swim Club is owned and operated by Verrado resident Sarah Byers. She didn’t always get to hang out at the pool all day; before taking over the swim team she taught at Verrado Middle School for seven years. Coach Byers enjoyed teaching the kids science, but her real love was of one-on-one coaching and mentoring, instilling confidence and encouraging them to stretch their abilities.
Following her calling, Sarah was hired to coach the team at the health club in Verrado, which led to the opportunity to take over the Vitras Swim Club. She turned her passion into a viable business. Residents had the opportunity to see the team in action and wanted to be a part of it. The Vitras Summer Swim Club now has 160 members taking home ribbons at swim meets every week.
An All American and State Champion, Sarah was recruited on scholarship to swim for Miami University. After college, she was placed in Vermont while volunteering for a year with Americorp. Her work in a teen drop in center inspired Sarah to get her Masters Degree in teaching at the University of Vermont (while coaching swim at Middlebury College), after which she followed her parents to come live in sunny Arizona.
Teaching at Verrado Middle School gave her the chance to discover her new hometown, where she and her husband Jeff fell in love with the community. The active lifestyle of the residents, and the number of like-minded neighbors who are also friends made it home for them.
Team Spirit and Great Parents
“I run with a great group of ladies in Verrado now, and get to teach and coach many of their kids in swimming. Five of my students even live on my street,” Sarah shared. The community is amazingly supportive of the Vitras Swim Team, and parents here are engaged and involved with their kids’ activities. Their willingness to help out has contributed significantly to the success of the team. “Most swim teams are struggling for enough volunteers to run a meet, but we always have plenty. That says a lot about this place.”
Safety First for All Ages
Knowing that the water can also be a dangerous place, Coach Byers is avid about water safety. She believes it is important for everyone to be taught, at a very minimum, to get themselves to the side of the pool and hold on to the wall. To support this, Sarah offers free safety workshops as well as expansive swimming lessons for all ages.
Coaches as Teachers
True to her mentoring spirit, Coach Byers likes to tell the stories of her students’ success. Sarah met her student Caroline Jenson years ago while teaching at VMS. Coach served as her advisor and Caroline worked as her teacher’s assistant in 8th grade. Today, a senior in high school, Caroline swims on the Verrado High School team as well as the Vitras Swim Club. “Caroline’s so great with the kids and has become a real role model for them,” said Coach Byers about her assistant coach.
Another student, Nate Varshine, at age 6 was resistant to even getting in the pool with her as a swim student. Fast forward to this summer and Nate swims the butterfly for the Vitras swim team. Thanks to great coaching, he overcame his fear and is building confidence on the team.
Master Swim Club
In addition to her busy coaching schedule, Sarah is also still swimming at a competitive level. She recently went with another Verrado couple to the US Masters One Mile Open Water National Championship in California and placed 4th. Leading the Masters Swim Club for adult swimmers, she and 10 Verrado residents are currently training for the Alcatraz Swim coming up on September 10th.
What’s up next for Sarah? She’s starting a triathlon club for kids ages 6-17 of all skill levels. Look for more information about this endeavor on Verrado.com starting in August.