By Phillip Whitten
SAN DIEGO, April 18. SEVERAL members of the US National Swim Team, here in San Diego for a USA Swimming training camp, will pay a visit tomorrow to the San Diego Children's Hospital.
Tentatively scheduled to make the visit are 2000 Olympians Tom Wilkens and Stacianna Stitts, and multi- record-setter, Natalie Coughlin. Also possibly joining the group are 2000 Olympic champion Megan Quann and 2002 NCAA champion Shelly Ripple.
The idea is the initiative of Bryan Jones, a member of USA Swimming's Athletes Executive Committee, and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Mark Henderson, also a member of the Athletes Executive Committee and USA Swimming's athlete rep to the US Olympic Committee.
Jones, a former national champion in the 100m fly, told SwimInfo.com: "The idea behind getting USA Swimming involved with a charity is one about which both Mark and I feel very strongly, and the Athletes Executive Committee is firmly behind.
"After last September, Mark was able to have a huge role in developing an event for the victims of September 11th involving elite athletes from several sports to be held this summer in New York."
In November, the two athlete reps decided that perhaps the National Team camp in San Diego would be a great place for the USA Swimming National Team athletes to show that they have the desire, when given a chance, to give back to the community.
Henderson secured goodies from Speedo, TYR, Oakley, the USOC and USA Swimming. He has also done a fantastic job in making this trip as much fun as possible for the athletes — including having the athletes take a limo to the hospital.
"The goal of this visit," said Jones, "is really to inspire the National Team athletes to press USA Swimming for more opportunities to make a difference in the community. We would like to see this become an event any time National Team athletes are together.
"We have had some great support from [Executive Director] Chuck [Wielgus] and the rest of USA Swimming in this endeavor, and look forward to this becoming not just an event, but part of the culture of the national team.
SwimInfo.com will be reporting on the hospital visit tomorrow.