QUINCY, Il. (WGEM) -- To have the dedication to be involved in anything as a volunteer that helps kids learn and enjoy a sport or activity they love for a number of years is an accomplishment in itself.
50 years however, is something that is almost unheard of.
Not if you're 'CanOka' swim coach Jake DeCoster.
DeCoster has volunteered his time as a coach for swimmers from Canton and Kahoka from the time he was a teenager, and is one of the longest tenured leaders of youth sports in our region that you've probably never heard of.
Over time he has built a very strong program, but he say's that's a feat that took more than just diving in.
"I was a kid when I started," DeCoster told WGEM Sports.
"Our first meet was with Sheridan, and we only knew how to do freestyle and back stroke. They had to jump in and show us butterfly and back stroke, and we tried to do it the best we could."
Since that time, he has helped build the CanOka program into something special.
"We've come a long way since then," he said.
"We've won the last 14 River Country Championships, so we've made a lot of progress."
"I just love to see the kids have success," he expressed.
"The little ones, the first time they ever swim a link, that's just a huge accomplishment, and down to record breakers."
From their first lap, to later down the road in life, DeCoster has helped change the lives of many.
"I've had seven college swimmers out of a summer swim program which is unheard of, two Division-1," said DeCoster.
"One of my swimmers is now a Division-1 head coach, so that's pretty amazing. We have a great group of kids in Canton and Kahoka and I just love doing it."
DeCoster, who also helps coach soccer in Canton, tells WGEM that he has no plans of stepping away anytime soon.
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