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Olympic success spurs bump in children’s sports

(Phoenix Swim Club Facebook)

PHOENIX — The record-breaking success of competitive swimmer Michael Phelps at the Rio Olympics and the women’s gymnastics team has prompted some Arizona youngsters to aim for their own success.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook with people interested in signing their children up,” said Sandy Lee of the Phoenix Swim Club.

It’s a phenomenon she’s seen before, but this year, it’s pretty big.

“It’s called the Olympic bump. Every four years, you get a big influx of parents that want to get their kids involved in the sport once they’ve seen the Olympics,” Lee said.

She expects to see a 20 percent increase in membership, following the extraordinary accomplishments of swimmer Michael Phelps, now holding a record 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold.

“And he’s been training here in the Valley, over at ASU, so it’s absolutely had an impact,” Lee said,

With Phelps now a local, there’s added excitement that the Olympic superstar is bringing here and to the sport.

She said once the youngsters get a taste of winning ribbons and medals, they’re often hooked on swimming.

Gymnastics is also seeing a big jump in interest. Watching the U.S. women’s gymnastics team grab medal after medal has made lots of girls want to give the sport a try.

“We’ve definitely have had an increase in phone calls, people saying, ‘Oh, my daughter saw the gymnasts on TV and she wants to do gymnastics,’ ” said Dan Witenstein of Arizona Sun Rays Gymnastics.

Witenstein said both the women’s and men’s teams have made him proud.

“I think that they are fantastic role models, all of them, all the girls on the team. I think the guys are amazing. One of our local athletes, Alex Naddour, just won a bronze medal,” Witenstein said.

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