COVINGTON -- Gregg Ellwanger has been named Volunteer of the Year for the Covington Family YMCA.
An avid swimmer, Ellwanger took his first lessons at the Y and founded the local YMCA's swim team in 2005. The only swim team in Newton County, it started with only eight members and has now grown to nearly 100.
"Gregg has great leadership skills and expertise in swimming," said Louly Hay-Kapp, associate executive director of the YMCA. "He knows what great opportunities can come through discipline and hard work and recognizes potential in every child, supporting each one equally."
Ellwanger is a physical therapist at Rockdale Medical Center and an athletic trainer for various sports teams. He and his wife live in Newborn and have three sons who are all trained lifeguards and have worked at the Y.
"I know how important athletics can be to kids. It focuses their energy in the long run and helps them from an academic standpoint, too," he said. "This has been a great facility for the summer swimmers. The swim lessons are real strong for kids here. The whole staff has been real supportive."
Ellwanger coached the swim team for several years and still volunteers his time. While Ellwanger said he's honored to be chosen Volunteer of the Year, the real honor is helping kids reach their potential in the pool, he said.
"Watching these kids develop, even if they don't take swimming further than the summer league, it's something they'll remember for the rest of their lives and have that skill for the rest of their lives. It's invaluable from an exercise standpoint. Swimming can save your life or somebody else's ... It encompasses all body types and sizes. Watching a kid who can barely swim 25 yards swim 100 yards at the end of the summer, it's fantastic," he said.
Ellwanger will be honored at the YMCA of Metro Atlanta annual volunteer recognition dinner Nov. 8 at the Cobb Galleria Centre.