Decatur grad gets into the flow to expose the sport of swimming

Decatur High School graduate Garrett McCaffrey, 25, is living the good life in Austin, Texas, where he manages his self-created Web site, www.Floswimming.org.

Decatur High School graduate Garrett McCaffrey, 25, is living the good life in Austin, Texas, where he manages his self-created Web site, www.Floswimming.org.

The Web site is exposing the sport of swimming, connecting the competitive swim community and providing a glimpse into the lives and routines of everyday and high-profile athletes. Launched this past November, the site has steadily gained recognition among swimmers.

“It’s a window into other swimmers and coaches at the international level,” McCaffrey said.

After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in broadcast journalism this past year, McCaffrey was hired by Flocasts, a media company specializing in swimming, wrestling and track coverage, to start and manage Floswimming.org. The Web site combines news, blogs, photos and videos to provide athletes and coaches a way to connect with one another and keep updated on the sport.

“It’s a home for the swimming community. Not only can you learn, but you can showcase your own stuff,” McCaffrey said.

Similar to social networking sites Myspace.com and Facebook.com, Floswimming.org allows users to generate a group of friends and photos. Though McCaffrey hesitates to liken his work to either MySpace or Facebook, the comparison helps put Floswimming.org into context, he said.

“It’s the Facebook meets YouTube of swimming,” McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey creates the site’s content, but also relies on its users to submit blogs and video footage. Visitors can read competitive swimmers’ blogs or watch video of swim meets and practices. McCaffrey has landed interviews, which are featured on the Web site, with 2008 Olympic pre-trial swimmers and YMCA Nationals competitors, among others.

Practices from local teams and coaches are also featured. A Dec. 26 King Aquatic Club practice session can be viewed on the site. Coach Sean Hutchison said he is not worried about other swim teams watching his team practice because the swimming community supports one another and has historically shared techniques for improvement. Before Floswimming emerged, Hutchison would have to personally approach a coach and ask for tips. Now he has the option of visiting McCaffrey’s Web site as well.

“There is a general feeling in USA swimming that we are better because of that sharing component,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison, who has coached swimming for 13 years, said the Web site is something that benefits him now, but would have been of great assistance in his beginning years of coaching.

“I was starving for something like that,” he said.

Though other swimming Web sites exist, McCaffrey’s passion for the sport and the site’s content give Floswimming a personal feel, Hutchison said. On competitive teams such as King Aquatic Club, where swimmers travel to practice and compete, athletes often do not know each other outside of practice and meets, he said.

“(Floswimming) makes it more of a community than a hierarchy,” Hutchison said.

It allows those who take the sport seriously to learn from others and improve themselves, while simultaneously giving those interested in swimming an inside look at what it means to be competitive in the sport, Hutchison said.

“The reaction has been great and I feel like those numbers are definitely reflective of something on the rise,” McCaffrey said.

Contact Jacinda Howard at: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.


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