Swim coach says he'll work for a dollar - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Swim coach says he'll work for a dollar

VINTON (KWWL)- Layoffs and budget cuts continue to be the result of difficult economic times across the country.

But in the midst of these troubling times, comes a story of self-sacrifice at one small school in Eastern Iowa.

"I didn't know that that many people cared about the swim program," said Dustin Martens, who will enter his fourth year as a swimmer at Vinton-Shellsburg High School.

In its 30 years of existence, the Vikings' boys swim program has had to fight to stay afloat.

"Unfortunately boys swimming in Iowa has had its struggles," said Jeff Holmes, head coach of the Vinton-Shellsburg program. 

Even finding pool space has been a challenge.  The team practices in a small 20 yard, four-lane wide pool at a nearby school for the blind.

Numbers had been down in the program, so naturally when the school district was faced this year with budget cuts, boys swimming was put on the chopping blocks.

"I didn't like the idea of it because the swim team has been around for a long time with the school, and it doesn't get appreciated as much as it should be," said Martens. 

Holmes, a Vinton native, saw only one way to keep the program from sinking.

"If it's going to come down to it, the difference between saving the program, and not saving the program, then pay me a dollar for a year, I don't care."

And the suggestion paid off.  The school board voted five to one to keep the sport alive for another year, on the condition Holmes was paid merely a dollar to coach the team.

"I just felt like, I didn't want to see opportunities taken away from the kids just because of that," said Holmes.

"I think that shows a great deal about his character and how he feels about the program," said Martens.

Holmes says numbers are expected to be up for next year's team and he hopes it's a sign of things to come.

"I would like to think we're going to have our numbers consistent enough to where we're going to be as stable as any other program out there."

Soon after Holmes made his sacrifice, the community followed.  Sevearl people made anonymous donations to the swim program.

Next winter, boys swimming will enter its 31st season.

Online Reporter:  Jason Epner

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