- Will Herbert
- Rising Junior, Marist
Will Herbert loves to swim.
“During the summer I basically live in the pool,” Will said.
Will has been swimming competitively since he was 9. He swam first with Swim Atlanta, then moved in March to the Dynamo Swim Club. He also swims competitively for the Marist School.
Last year, Will, a scout with Troop 304 at the Lovett School, started planning the community service project he needed to reach the rank of Eagle scout. He saw a chance to combine swimming with what he recognized as a real need in the community.
Will had read repeated newspaper accounts of accidental drownings, especially drownings of minority children. He decided his community service project should be to set up a day camp to teach basic swimming skills and water safety to minority children.
The parishioner of St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church in Dunwoody teamed up with Catholic Charities Atlanta to help him reach children who needed the swimming lessons.
“Once I got my idea approved by my Eagle advisor and filled out the necessary paperwork, there were two main things I had to do: find a pool and find transportation,” Will said.
Finding a pool was easy. The two-year member of the Marist School’s varsity swim team approached his swim coach and mentor, Terry Blish, who was eager to help his project by finding time for Will to use the Marist pool.
But finding transportation for the children in the program wasn’t so easy. Will ended up raising money to rent a bus that his mom drove to and from Marist’s pool during his day camp. “She had fun doing it, I think! She really liked spending that time with the kids,” Will said.
Will spent four days at the Marist pool teaching 22 children water safety tips and basic swimming skills, such as floating and blowing bubbles underwater.
“Will’s project is really great because he found a way to communicate a love of swimming to those who previously didn’t have that skill; one that could potentially save a life someday,” said Kevin Link, Will’s scoutmaster.
Will has been active in Boy Scouts since kindergarten, but it is not all he is involved in. He is a peer leader who helps to transition incoming students to Marist; a retreat leader who assists in training, planning, and conducting the Marist’s yearly peer-lead spiritual retreats; and he is one of Marist’s student ambassadors, who give tours to prospective families.
“The Scout Oath and the Scout Law talk about being organized, friendly, courteous, and truthful, and I try to connect that to everything I do. I work hard in school–I enjoy school–and I try to have a positive attitude towards everything I do, whether that be swimming, school, church, or with friends. I try to be nice to everyone and always show respect,” Will said.
Blish said Will’s hard work has paid off.
“Will is emerging as the team leader that I hoped he would become,” Blish said. “It has been a pleasure to see him achieve the rank of Eagle Scout and all that it means for his character development. But I cannot take any credit for Will or his accomplishments. I believe he demonstrates the sort of good citizenship that starts at home — in other words, athletics don’t build character, they only give character the opportunity to shine.”
Will returns to Marist this fall. He enjoys math, science, languages, and history, and is currently thinking about a degree in engineering, though he isn’t sure. He plans to continue swimming.