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  Wednesday, December 7, 2005
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"Club" Aquatics Director Alissa Downing
By Kevin Devlin

     This young lady from Maine has happily made the transition from the countryside to the city and is enjoying every minute of it as the Club's Aquatics Director


      Alissa Downing grew up in rural Maine and really didn't know what to expect when she journeyed south to South Boston. After working at the South Boston Boys and Girls Club for a year, she knows now that there is plenty going on that she enjoys being involved with.

     Downing grew up in Skowhegan, Maine, a small rural town of approximately 10,000 people. She attended the Skowhegan Area High School and subsequently studied at Maine University at Farmington.

     Downing was working as an administrator at the Agassiz Village Camp in Poland, Maine, when she heard about the job posting for an Aquatics Director, and off she went in pursuit of a new adventure, another challenge in her life. And, she likes her new life in the city.

     "Living in the city is definitely an adjustment," said Downing. "Especially in the wintertime when it snows out and there's no place to put the snow.

     "I really love the kids and the staff," added Downing. "I enjoy working with them and learn something new everyday from them as well as from the community."

     As the Aquatics Director, Downing teaches basic water skills to make sure the kids are safe around the pool, asks that they be respectful of each other, work together, and just have good old-fashioned fun She is involved with the Club swim team that has about 45-50 swimmers this season. She oversees lifeguard training and lifeguard safety during free swims, water polo, and the Rock and Swim, a program that allows swimmers to enjoy splashing around in the pool while listening to music. Downing also monitors the Mile Marathon, a program in which swimmers have to make a commitment to swim 26 miles during the season.

      Downing hopes to introduce snorkeling and scuba diving classes for the Club kids. She also plans on taking the Club swimmers to some local college swim meets to show them what awaits them if they are willing to train hard and long in the pool to reach their goals.

     Downing was a high school swim coach for five years up north, and has seen her swimmers move on to Division I swim teams. So, she knows what it takes to make it, what it takes to be a success in the swimming world.

     Prior to her excursion south, Downing has kept herself quite busy. She still works at Camp Agassiz during the summertime time, and worked one year (2000) as a volunteer in Americorps. Downing has worked in Special Education settings, as well as in Behavior Modification and Peer Resolution Programs in her native state. One of her most rewarding experiences is when one of her swimmers, who could only swim with one arm, completed the 500 free-style event at a high school meet, not an easy feat to say the least.

     In her free time, Downing likes to take pictures and travel. She has been to Europe and Hawaii and has completed an East Coast trip, traveling from Maine to Florida.

     She keeps busy and has plenty of energy.

     And, she'll continue to do just fine at the Club.

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South Boston Boys and Girls Club Aquatics Director Alissa Downing (left) pictured with Club members Shannon, Brittany, and Taylor.