Breaking records could be motivation enough for Rishi Kowalski to continue coming back to Twin Lakes Pool after 13 years, but there is more to his story.
Kowalski, a recent Paideia graduate heading to Amherst College in the fall, said he has enjoyed the family feel of the pool for more than a decade.
Kowalski is one of five male graduates who have been swimming for the Twin Lakes Thunder Bolts at least 10 years. He said the pool has become like a home away from home.
“One thing that keeps bringing me back is my group of friends,” Kowalski said. “We are all really tight and good friends. It is nice to see these guys this summer. We don’t all go to the same school, so it is always nice to get back together with them in the summer.”
Kowalski said winning races and breaking records is nice, but having such a dedicated group of friends makes the times when the team does not come out on top easier.
“It is just nice to have that group of guys there,” Kowalski said. “And when we do win, it is nice to know that we accomplished something as a team and not just by ourselves.”
Kowalski said the “hanging out” with Garrett Stanley, Matthew Williams, Jason Arne, and Michael Eriksen is not restricted to the pool.
The group of guys spends a lot of time during the summer with fellow seniors Stephanie Field and Meredith Gage outside of the pool.
Kowalski, like the rest of his fellow seniors, is a coach at Twin Lakes as well as a competitor. He said his favorite aspect of teaching swimming is watching the younger swimmers improve each year.
“When you see kids not even dropping time, but making a big adjustment to their strokes that makes it easier for them, that is great to see,” Kowalski said.
Kowalski has been a part of eight pool records and two DeKalb County summer swim league records. He was also named the 2011 Twin Lakes Swimmer of the Year.
Kowalski plans to swim four years at Amherst, but he is not sure what he wants to study at college yet.