Rachel Thorson, back right, stands near the rest of her Ripon Community Swim Club teammates who joined her in qualifying for the state meet in 2010. Pictured are, front row, from left, Grace Rondorf, Marcel Hones, Andrew Rodriguez, Quyn Duffy; back row, Caleb Kasper, Theresa Kasper, Karin Hanisch and Thorson. Nine years later, Thorson now is the swim club’s head coach.
Rachel Thorson, back right, stands near the rest of her Ripon Community Swim Club teammates who joined her in qualifying for the state meet in 2010. Pictured are, front row, from left, Grace Rondorf, Marcel Hones, Andrew Rodriguez, Quyn Duffy; back row, Caleb Kasper, Theresa Kasper, Karin Hanisch and Thorson. Nine years later, Thorson now is the swim club’s head coach.

   Rachel Thorson knows what it feels like to not have enough money to do something she enjoys.

   She remembers giving the Ripon Community Swim Club a try as a child through its free one-month trial, only to realize that it was not financially feasible for her family at that time.

   Luckily, Thorson’s family talked to then-head coach Al Brink, who worked with them and the Ripon Area School District and free lunch program to reduce the price of swimming.

   As a result, she received an experience that shaped her life.

   “I have a very deep passion for swimming because of the program; it was just like family to me and I continued all the way through college because of this program,” Thorson said. “And I wanted to be a part of that again and help others feel as passionately about something as I do and [get] excited.”

   The 2012 Ripon High School graduate did just that as she returned to her alma matter prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year and took over as the head coach of the swim club.

   She also wanted to give back to help those in similar situations she faced as a child.

   For that reason, she refused to take any payment for her coaching duties. Instead, she just requested that the club gives it back to the team for those in need.

Read the full column in the Aug. 16, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.