Every Christmas, Laguna Fin Co.—a one-of-a-kind swimming fin company based out of Laguna Beach, CA—picks an underprivileged swimming club to donate swim fins for every swimmer in the program. They aim to pick a club that is not only in need but has shown a level of commitment and growth within a tough economic environment. This year Laguna Fin Co. picked Oasis Aquatics swim club based out of Lancaster, CA.
Four years ago Oasis had just ten swimmers in the program with about half of them showing up to any given practice. There was no apparel sponsor which meant attending meets with no team gear, non-matching suits, and no real sense of unity. The club faced a series of unfortunate events as their head coach Bill Huey suffered from several strokes, his third being in 2015. At that time, Lenin Velasco, a parent who had been mentoring under Huey decided to get his coaching license because the kids could not practice or compete while Huey was hospitalized. Velasco helped the program in various ways through bookkeeping, assisting Huey on the pool deck, and team organization. In the beginning of 2017, Huey had another stroke and was hospitalized and at that time Velasco became the interim head coach. Sadly, Huey never came out of the hospital and passed away more than a year later. After he passed in 2018 Velasco became the official Oasis head coach. As head coach Velasco decided to run the program with a new approach implementing all the knowledge that he had learned from Huey. He focused not only on new techniques and current trends, but also on growth and development in and out of the pool.
Velasco holds a higher standard for his kids, encouraging good grades by offering a raffle for new swimming gear. The children bring in their report cards twice a year for the raffle and get extra raffle tickets for better grades with a bonus for straight-A students. Velasco noted, “The first time we did this, I had a swimmer who was embarrassed to show me her report card because her grades weren’t very good, and by the next raffle she had the radically improved her grades and she said to me, ‘Coach, I really want that new backpack!’” Since the raffle began, Velasco has seen a dramatic change in the performance and grades from all his swimmers. That’s not the only thing that improved. The Oasis club has grown tremendously over the last couple years, growing from 10 to 50 kids. Velasco also aims to grow team comradery through field trips and holiday events, something which was absent in the previous years. The club now has matching warmups and swimsuits, along with a sponsorship from Speedo and Laguna Fin Co.
On Dec 3, 2018, Laguna Fin Co. and 4x Olympic medalist Kaitlin Sandeno visited the Oasis swimming facility to give a few words of motivation and a pair of fins to every swimmer in the program. Sandeno then passed around her Olympic medals for the kids to enjoy and followed with a Q & A. The kids lined up for pictures and autographs and received their brand-new pair of Laguna Fins, which they instantly took to the water and began swimming. “Today was an awesome experience,” noted Sandeno. “I am passionate about giving back, so to be able to share my story and medals with this inspiring team, and then pass out a pair of fins to each swimmer was extremely fulfilling, especially during the holidays. It was so cool to see all the swimmers excited to train in their Laguna Fins. Their feedback and smiles were extremely gratifying. I’m so happy and proud to be a part of what my partners and I at Laguna Fin Co. were able to provide.” Here’s a behind the scenes look at this year’s Laguna Fin Co. Holiday Sponsorship.