It’s been four months since Aaron Opell started Gold Medal Swim Academy on Evansville’s East Side. There, you can find not just swim lessons but more advanced practices that focus on form and technique to improve performance.
“My vision is to make a profound impact on the swimming community,” Opell says.
Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. didn’t introduce high school swim teams until 2000, prompting Opell’s family to move to Newburgh, Indiana, so he could compete at Castle High School and on the local swim club team, the Sea Creatures. His resume grew on Indiana University’s men’s swim team, and while he earned his master’s degree, he competed on USA Swimming’s National Team.
After retiring from competitive swimming in 2010, Opell enjoyed helping coach at IU and for the SwimMAC Carolina in Charlotte, North Carolina. He returned to the Tri-State, coaching local 2016 Olympic gold medalist Lilly King and 2020 Paralympic gold medalist Mikaela Jenkins.
Eventually, Opell pivoted to an area in which he felt there was a need in the community: swim instruction. After searching for local pools to hold lessons, he found Rehab for Life at 6215 E. Florida St., which offers physical rehabilitation services. Opell says he and Jan Stamps, owner of Rehab for Life and the Canine Aquatic Center next door, hit it off.
“It’s an all-around very nice setting. I knew from the get-go I wanted to make this happen,” he says. “Little did I know how effective the pools would be at teaching individuals how to swim.”
Two warm, smaller pools slightly over four feet deep are perfect for teaching young swimmers. For more advanced swimmers, adjustable artificial currents allow them to better swim technique in a fraction of the time it takes in a normal pool. As of Aug. 7, GMSA has offered swim school for children three and older, triathlete technique to help competitive swimmers reduce their risk of injury, and semi-private or private peak performance lessons for those who want to drop their times and reach their goals.
“I fell in love with teaching swimming. I decided to come home to give Southern Indiana something to be proud of,” Opell says.