Someone You Should Know: Passion for the pool

Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 4:46 PM CDT
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BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Wendy Ahrendsen has a passion for the pool.

For 25 years, the Manning, Iowa, native has taught swimming lessons and been a coach with the Brookings Swim Club.

“I had done swimming all growing up. I swam in the club and coached right out of high school while I was going to college,” said Wendy.

Wendy came to Brookings to get a master’s degree in math at South Dakota State. She teaches math at SDSU now, and she’s become a well-known swim coach across the 605.

“Club swimming is a big family — not just our own team, but all across the state. I started getting involved with coaching the Zones teams, the all-star teams for South Dakota. I got to know a lot of the kids throughout South Dakota,” said Wendy.

She has coached some of these kids’ parents.

“It’s fun to see the swim families stay involved — when the second generation swims. Then grandma and grandpa come and watch. They were the parents when I first started, and now they’re the grandparents watching them swim,” said Wendy.

Cassie Hendricks was one of those kids Wendy coached. Cassie is now the head coach of the Brookings Swim Club.

“I always looked up to all my coaches when I was younger. But Wendy is the one that gave me the love for swimming. Now it’s cool to work with her and see her develop all of our younger swimmers. Wendy has a connection with the little kids that nobody else that I know has,” said Cassie.

“She definitely pushes you out of your comfort zone, but in a good way. She lets me do things that I didn’t think I wanted to do — or was able to — in swimming,” said Brookings swimmer Avery Jorgensen.

From early morning to evening practices and lessons, Wendy is never far from the water.

“It’s one of those things where when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like it’s that big of a time commitment. You just gotta go see the kids. I might be on the pool deck with a walker when I’m in my 70s. I plan to do it for a while longer,” said Wendy.