Olympic medalist Kim Vandenberg conducted a swim clinic for the Darien YMCA Piranhas swim team on Saturday, Sept. 27. Vandenberg won a bronze medal with the 4 x 200m freestyle relay at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. This was a free event for Piranhas team members as a result of their fundraising initiatives.

During the morning, Vandenberg held two poolside clinics, one for Piranhas ages 11 and under and the second for age 12 and older. During each of the clinics, she demonstrated drills for freestyle and butterfly strokes, before coaching the Piranhas team members as they swam the drills themselves.

Following the clinics, Vandenberg gave a motivational talk to Piranhas team members and parents about how she has dealt with both disappointment and success throughout her career. She described how she had to quit other sports she enjoyed so she could compete in swimming year-round, indicating "if you love what you do, the sacrifices aren't as big a deal." Key milestones that helped her advance her career included learning she needed to communicate with her coach when she was feeling overwhelmed by school, how to focus on her own swimming, not looking at where her competition was in a given race and practicing good nutrition to complement her aggressive training. Throughout Vandenberg's career, she's realized the critical role confidence plays in achieving success, saying, "confidence comes from experience. It took years of failing and not reaching my goals to realize that."

Vandenberg was born and raised in northern California and graduated from UCLA. She began swimming when she was eight years old. She is best known for her Olympic bronze medal. Vandenberg won her first U.S. national title in the 200m butterfly at the 2004 national competition and went on to compete in the finals of the 2004 Olympic trials, finishing fifth in the 200m butterfly. She won a silver medal in the 2007 World Championships in the 200m butterfly. She won a gold medal in 200 butterfly and 4 x 200 freestyle relay in the 2011 Pan American Games. She also has been a two-time U.S. national champion. Vandenberg continues to train five hours a day and six days a week at the New York Athletic Club with the goal of competing in the 2016 Olympics. She conducts swim clinics all over the world and is also an ambassador to the charitable organizations Up2Us and Play International.

For more information about the Darien YMCA and their Piranha swim team, visit www.darien-ymca.org.

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