Making Waves


What makes a team?

To the new swim team at George Fox University, it means more than the shared trials of endurance and strength during their practices at the Chehalem Cultural Center Pool. Though their practice time consists of the typical warm-ups, drills, relays, and plenty of laps common for college swim training, Bruin swimmers are unique in several ways. For one thing, they’re not actually an official team.

At least not yet.

While most competitive swimmers get the opportunity to put their work to the test at swim meets against other schools in their division, the George Fox University Bruins are getting some extra time to grow and wait patiently for their 2018 fall season debut. Head Coach Natalie Turner knows it’s a lot to ask for students to practice as a team for an entire year without competition, but their willingness to do so speaks volumes about the kind of attitude this coach hopes to instill in her swimmers.

“I’m looking for people who want to come in and start something,” Turner says. “People who want to come in and lay a strong foundation of being positive, being Christ-driven, and having a very strong leadership on the team.”

Coach Turner has high expectations for her team. She makes sure that these expectations are clear: “I’m very up front about the fact that I appreciate hard work over anything else. I believe that hard work earns you respect. I believe that you give respect when you work hard. There’s a lot of mutual appreciation that can come out of hard work.”

This mindset of commitment and respect is an established  recipe for athletic success at any level. But while there are plenty of swimmers with the grit to win, Turner believes her unique coaching method is what will make the difference. She wants her swim team to be set apart by their faith, and for Natalie Turner, this is what drew her to George Fox.

“I saw it as an opportunity in two ways: to get back into college coaching, and to be a part of a small Christian school, “ says Turner. “The fact that George Fox was starting a new program and that I could incorporate my faith into that, and that it could be such a huge part of what the athletic program stands for . . . I really wanted that to be a team that I coached.”

It’s worth noting that a conversation with Coach Turner about her swim team is often accompanied with expressions of pride and joy. It’s easy to see that she loves her job, and hopes that her swimmers will feel the same way.

“I want them to look back and say, ‘I loved swimming at George Fox. The people that I swam with were great, and the coaches that I swam for really cared about me.’ That’s my biggest goal for the team,” she shared.

The Bruins will continue their hard work until the 2018 fall swim season finally arrives. Then, when the time comes, George Fox swimmers will get the chance to not only show the world what it means to be a member of the university’s swim team, but also what it means to work hard and be set apart by something greater as a student athlete for a Christian university.