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Coach Ewlad in Columbia

Peggy Ewald, head coach of ONU's men's and women's swimming, served as head coach for the U.S. Paralympics swim team at the Youth Parapan American Games, Oct.18-22 in Bogota, Columbia.
She has been working with the Paralympics Swim team and athletes competing for the U.S. Paralympics Swim team since 2003.

Coach Ewald, second from right, with Paralympics swim team.Q. How many athletes did you coach?
A. We had a team of 12 athletes. Of that team, only three had competed as part of the U.S. Paralympic National team in any previous paralympic meet. So the team was what we considered to be upcoming potential talent.

Q. How did they do in competition?
A. The team of 12 returned from the meet with 45 medals. So in all, we did quite well!

Q. Any observations on Columbia?
A. Colombia was very, very beautiful. The Andes Mountains in the backdrop were amazing. We could see the mountains from the pool out the walls of windows. It was a beautiful view. The people were very gracious and eager to make us feel welcome. Chocolate and coffee were everywhere. Fresh Colombian coffee was better than any coffee I've ever had. The culture was extremely health driven, people ate healthfully and were very active recreationally. The parks were full of people working out on their own and many in organized groups. They sold fruits and vegetables as we would sell hotdogs, chips and pop. Quite different were the streets of Bogota. Traffic was crazy. I would never want to drive there, yet we only saw one accident the entire time. I was very impressed with the people and the city. It definitely exceeded my expectations.

Q. Why do you stay involved in this program - what keeps you coming back?
A. My passion is swimming. I never get tired of it or the satisfaction of being able to help people reach their goals. It's invigorating to be around people who embrace obstacles and set no limits to what they can achieve. If I can serve someone through my passion of the water - swimming - then I've grown as much as they have. As long as I can bring something to the table to help the athletes and the teams representing our country, then I'll continue as long as they want me.

Swim team membersQ. Does your Paralympic coaching have any impact on your ONU teams?
A. I feel the impact on my ONU teams is vastly underestimated. I would not be the coach I am if it were not for all my experiences and work with the disability-swimming field. It has opened doors for me to the experts in the swimming industry, both abled and disabled. I feel my development as a person and coach is enhanced through my friendships and connection to the USOC(U.S. Olympic Committee), the athletes and staff of the U.S. Paralympic Swim team, and all the support staff that contribute to the paralympic movement. I get to be on the cutting edge of knowledge in the swimming industry, I get to work with exceptional people both in and out of the pool who are making a difference in sport throughout the U.S. and world. All of this is a part of me every day I'm on deck at ONU. So the impact may not be measured directly, but indirectly it has a profound difference on the ONU teams I coach.

Q. Have any of your ONU athletes become involved in work with Paralympians?
A. Currently, my ONU team is scheduled to help manage one of the largest disability swim meets to be held annually on U.S. ground. In May, I will take my team to Cincinnati to work a meet where they will serve to help over 100 disabled swimmers. Jessica Ewald, '07 ONU graduate, and yes, my daughter, who is the assistant coach for Youngstown State University Women's Swim Team, privately gives lessons to a visually impaired athlete who is aspiring to become a U.S. Paralympic team member.