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Swimming an enriching outlet for Baldwin siblings

| Monday, April 3, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

All three Watterson siblings started swimming at a young age. Liam and Anna were 5; Terrance was a little older.

“I started when I was 10 or 11,” Terrance said. “My parents asked me if I was interested in trying it out, and so I did. At that time, I had tried playing a few other sports, but swimming was just a better fit for me. I can't remember, but I'm sure my dad having been a swimmer made a big impact on my choice. But to his credit, he never tried to push me into the sport.”

Terrance returned the favor to his younger sister and brother, as he has made a big impact on both, and particularly Anna.

“Really, it was watching my older brother fail at ‘land-sports,' and anything dealing with hand-eye coordination, that I realized I too was going to be inept,” Anna said. “I loved watching my parents get excited about Terrance swimming; when he started to compete I loved watching him race. Being that I looked up to him so much, but also being very competitive, I had to do it, too. I also wasn't good at dancing; my dance instructors hated how easily I forgot dance moves. Keeping my face in the water was better for everyone.

“That being said, both my brothers are a huge influence. Terrance has set an example of what it means to have strong character. He is resilient, and my best friend. I just want to impress him and show him that I am who I am because of how much I look up to him as a person. Liam, while being my younger brother, has influenced me because of his ability to just have fun and go with the flow. He works so hard, but makes hard work fun.”

Liam looked up to his older brother and sister, and followed in their footsteps.

“They have had a very large impact on my life,” he said. “I really owe all of my (swimming) success to them.”

Without hesitation, Terrance, Anna and Liam all said their dad has had the biggest influence on their swimming careers.

“My dad was one of my high school coaches, and then an official who found his way down on deck during my college championships to support me. People ask me what it was like to have your dad as a coach. I always looked up to him, so it made it easier when there wasn't really an escape from the few times when swimming was the only thing to talk about. More importantly though, I was never able to take an easy way out of a practice or slack off when it was time to step up. That taught me to never back down from a challenging situation. This benefited me in my college swimming career, and in life in the real world after college.”

Said Anna: “My dad, without a doubt, is my hero and role model. My last four years of swimming, I just wanted it to be amazing to thank my dad for everything he has done for me and my brothers. He is the best swim coach and dad a kid could ask for.”

Added Liam: “The person I owe the most for my accomplishments in swimming is my dad. He was my first swim coach, and even when he retired from coaching he continued to give me tips and help me with my swimming.”

But the determination displayed by their mother, Alexis, to continue to recover from her stroke has been an inspiration for everyone in the Watterson household.

Alexis graduated from Croton-Harmon High School in New York in 1980, and from Mercy College in 1984. She was a state qualifier in track. Six years ago, she suffered a devastating stroke that initially gave her little hope of surviving as she went into a coma, and has left her with some serious health challenges.

“She goes to every meet she can for her kids,” said Dave, her husband of 27 years. “One of the first big outings she had (following her stroke) was TC's senior night at Behrend.”

Terrance, who still is an active swimmer and logged about 150 miles in the pool last year, offered a few words of wisdom to area student-athletes.

“It is my opinion that if you have the opportunity to play a sport through college, don't pass it up because you decided it would be too hard to do school and a sport,” he said. “I can guarantee you that it is hard to do both.

“But how do you find out what you are really capable of accomplishing if you don't challenge yourself?”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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