published Monday, June 4th, 2012

Nazor Hill: A new generation dives into swimming

The Nazor Hill family celebrated with cheers, high fives, kisses and hugs last Tuesday night after my 5-year-old granddaughter, Tilleigh, passed the Signal Mountain swim team swimming test.

She had to swim freestyle, without touching the bottom of the pool, for 25 meters. Typically in a freestyle competition, swimmers can do any stroke -- breast, back, butterfly or free -- and not be disqualified as long as they don't touch the bottom of the pool and properly touch the wall at the end of the event. But in this particular test, full-fledged arm-swinging freestyle was required. We weren't sure she could do it 25 meters (about 82 feet), but she was confident she could. And she did.

Swimming is a big sport in my family. Whether it's in a pool, in the river or ocean, Nazors and swimming are like fish and water.

Recreational swimming is a world away from competitive swimming. Splashing around in the water and enjoying the lazy days of summer is not the same as getting up early every morning and hitting the water doing laps back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and then repeating it again that evening. It's a demanding sport the athlete has to enjoy.

My four children were excellent competitive swimmers, raking in many awards through the years. One of my daughters, Karah Nazor Friberg, went to college on a full swimming scholarship, then years later became the first person from Tennessee to swim the English Channel. A few years ago, Karah founded the Chattanooga Open Water Swimmers, which has gained international attention and was recently featured in a National Geographic reality TV show.

Competitive swimming on a local level ended for the Nazors when my youngest son graduated from high school in 2000.

Then along came Tilleigh in 2006. When my daughter was pregnant, we all hoped the baby would be, most importantly, healthy, and secondly, a swimmer. Time would tell.

My daughter moved into a house with a pool, and we knew the first time Tilleigh got in the water that she was going to be a swimmer. At 3 years old, she was jumping off diving boards, swimming underwater and doing flips. She even orchestrated "races" in the water. She mastered holding her breath at 3 and doesn't hold her nose when going underwater. She says she wants to swim across the English Channel. We'll re-evaluate that goal when she realizes it took her aunt 12 hours to swim the 26-mile route from England to France.

Realizing it would be extremely cool to have two generations of successful English Channel swimmers, right now we're ecstatic to have two generations of Chattanooga Area Swim League swimmers.

It remains to be seen if Tilleigh breaks swimming records like her aunt, but if she doesn't, that's OK with us. A competitive swimmer, regardless of his or her talent, is a good swimmer. It's a skill that stays with you throughout life.

I was a cheerleader in high school, and, believe me, I don't go around doing cheers. My swimming children, all in their 30s, are still swimmers.

If I did anything right as a young mom, it was introducing my kids to swimming. I'm happy to say, my daughter is doing the same.

My four children were dubbed the "Swimming Nazors" by this newspaper many years ago because of the numerous points they earned at every swim meet. I am thrilled that 12 years after my youngest Nazor climbed out of the pool after his last meet, a new Nazor is jumping in.

Swim meets, here we come.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill. Subscribe to her posts on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/karennazorhill.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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