Swim Association Invitational League
Greenville, South Carolina
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SAIL in the News
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Long before he joined the Swim Association Invitation League (SAIL) program, Brandon Mino knew how to swim. The 18-yearold who is preparing to enter his freshman year at the College of Charleston began swimming as a 5-year-old in New York. But in 11 summers as a member of the Foxcroft community team, Mino learned that the weekly competition is about much more than winning races.
"The true meaning of SAIL for me is giving back to my team more than it has given me," says Mino, who developed leadership skills as he climbed the competitive ladder each summer. Mino did that serving as a role model for younger swimmers. And he did it so well that he recently was named recipient of a SAIL college scholarship, which goes to swimmers who exhibit sportsmanship, leadership, mentoring of younger swimmers, and team spirit. He received the award as the top male entry; Alexandra Stone of Riverwalk received the scholarship among the female swimmers. Mino became the second Foxcroft swimmer to earn the award in the past three years; Briana Mawby received one in 2009. "I've just tried to do the same thing others did for me," says Mino, who was 7 years old when his family moved to Greenville from Rochester, N.Y. He joined the competition immediately and later realized that he loves teaching even more than swimming. "I love passing on what I've learned. In 11 years, you pick up a lot of information," says Mino, "and it's fun to pass that down and watch the younger swimmers pick it up."
Mino, who plans to compete at the club level of swimming this winter in Charleston, hopes to be a SAIL coach next summer.
Mino says SAIL "taught me many things over the years," and he lists sportsmanship at the top. He learned early that simple acts of sportsmanship, such as staying in the pool until every competitor has finished, can have a big impact on others.
"My coaches emphasized this very much through my years in SAIL, and I passed this lesson on to my track team," says Mino, who competed in track the past two years at Eastside High School.
"Nobody leaves the pool until everyone has finished, and nobody steps off the track until all the competitors have finished running. I consider this paying respect for the effort that every athlete has put into finishing the race. And whether I win or lose, I always congratulate my competitors." The wide age spread at SAIL creates an ideal setting for enhancing leadership skills, Mino says.
"Leadership starts at a young age with the people you literally look up to. When I was young, I looked up to the older swimmers in the adjacent lanes," Mino says. "They were so strong and would answer any questions I had. I did my first flip-turn after a senior swimmer taught me step by step. I learned to dive from the blocks with the instruction of my older neighbor, who was a 15-18 member of the team." In turn, Mino says, he recently celebrated with a 9-year-old swimmer who came to him for some help on diving technique. "At the next meet, he came over to me after his first event ecstatic and hugged me. He didn't even care that he had gotten second, but only wanted to talk about how he dove from the blocks," Mino says. "He was so surprised that he had been able to conquer something that just a week ago had absolutely terrified him. I saw so much of myself in him at that moment."
Mino considers swimming his favorite sport, in large part because of the team concept. In his essay for the scholarship contest, Mino said, "Each generation passes on the principles of sportsmanship, leadership, mentorship, and spirit to the next. I first saw this in the older kids; I then felt it in myself, and I now see it in the younger kids. When the generations connect, it is amazing. I see myself in so many of the younger kids on my team. This is the essence of SAIL."