MARBLEHEAD — Young athletes dove right into a week full of Olympic games with aquatic activities on Monday.
Young swimmers filled the pool at the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA to complete a series of challenges and earn a gold medal.
Children in the craft room kicked off the opening competition by creating Olympic torches using construction paper and colorful tissue paper.
“For us, it’s about us trying to highlight the achievement of the Olympics,” said executive director Gerald MacKillop. “For some of these kids, just jumping in for the first time is their achievement. Others may have made it 15 yards in the past and maybe today they’ll push for 20. We’re using the spirit of the Olympics to encourage those achievements.”
To receive a medal, swimmers had to complete five challenges outlined on a chart. They each had to swim the length of the pool, retrieve a diving ring from the bottom, and float on their backs for 10 seconds.
The other two tasks were modified for preschool-aged kids and youth. Depending on their age group, they each had to tread water for either 10 or 30 seconds, and either dive from the side or jump from the diving board.
When each event was completed by a swimmer, he or she received their first gold medal of the week.
Nicole Faleyev of Swampscott said she loves jumping into the pool. She knows that great hockey players and skiers get to go to the Olympics, but she isn’t sure the games are for her.
“It’s too loud,” said Faleyev, 5, who takes swimming lessons at the YMCA. “And it’s probably 60 miles away.”
Addi Teague, 7, of Peabody, is on the Sharks, the YMCA of the North Shore’s swim team. She and four of her five siblings all swim at the facility’s pool a few days a week.
“I do want to be an Olympic swimmer,” she said.
But Teague, who received her medal during the first hour of the activity and wore it proudly around her neck, was more excited that on Tuesday the Olympic Games would continue with gymnastics.
“My kids live in the pool,” said her mother, Sharon Teague. “So she’s never been to the gymnastics room before. They’re doing a lot to bring in the community and my kids love coming here. During the summer when the outdoor pool is open too, it’s like going to a water park.”
For the remainder of the week from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., various games will be held. On Wednesday, the activities will focus on health and wellness, and on Thursday, there will be a variety of sports offered.
An Olympic celebration will commence on Friday, when children can bring the medals they earned and take photos on a podium. Bounce houses will be brought in to keep everyone entertained.
“We see this pool as much more than a box filled with water,” said MacKillop. “They’re building confidence skills. We’re creating experiences and this gives them an exceptional experience. Maybe we will inspire the next great Olympic swimmer.”