It happens every four years.
Scads of parents bring their little girls, fresh from watching the Olympic Games, to start gymnastics training.
Tami Harrison, owner and head coach at World Class Gymnastics National Training Center in Newport News, said she is bracing for the onslaught. Interest in starting youth sports, such as gymnastics and swimming, peaks around Olympics time, according to local experts.
Harrison was a five-time member of the USA National Team and a 1984 U. S. Olympic Trials participant.
"We're trying to get ourselves prepared," Harrison said. "This is definitely our most popular (time) — our enrollment just picks up tremendously. It also happened after the Olympic Trials, when they watched it and came in saying they wanted to be just like them. It's just amazing how it just booms."
The next Gabby
Joan Ivey, recreation program coordinator at the Newport News Riverview Gymnastics Center, is seeing the same thing. Ivey, an original member of the city's Flipateers gymnastics club, started gymnastics at age 7 and has coordinated city programs for more than 30 years.
The city's Parks, Recreation and Tourism department offers lessons as well as the Flipateers competitive team.
"Our fall session is going to be overwhelming I'm sure, after the Olympics," Ivey said. "So we're just as excited as they are. Gymnastics is the biggest program we have for the city.
"I'm prepared for it. I have been hiring some instructors, knowing the enrollment's going to increase."
Harrison said she does not discuss with parents of younger tumblers the significant time and money commitment that comes with elite gymnastics training. She has that conversation when trainees advance to the competitive team. She tries to promote the sport because she believes in it so much, and that includes attracting new participants, she said.
Two years ago, her gymnasts were competing against Olympic all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas, who is from Virginia Beach.
Harrison grew up knowing the mystique of legendary gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Olga Korbut, and 1984 Olympic all-around gold medalist Mary Lou Retton was the golden girl of her particular era. But today's youngsters are much more familiar with modern era gymnasts, such as 2004 Olympic all-around gold medalist Carly Patterson, Harrison said.
"It's really fun to hear the stories," Harrison said. "Most of us started that way. We always wanted to be just like the Olympians."
Swimming interest spikes
Swimming also gets a bump every four years, with interest in America's elite sparking more entrants into year-round swim clubs, local coaches said. The summer swimming season ended with Saturday's city meet.
"It's increased ten fold," said Garret Lynn, swim team coach at Elizabeth Lake pool in Hampton during the summer and a year-round swimmer himself. "Every time the Olympics comes around, I guess because of Michael Phelps, people seem to get a sparked interest in the sport. It's been happening since the 2008 Olympics.
"It's mostly from people that swam before on small kind of things and want to get into the whole year-round aspect of it. You've got summer league and high school swimming, and year-round swimming has gotten a lot bigger since the 2008 Olympics. A lot of the teams around here have gotten more membership because of the Olympics and everything else."
Jodi Clark coaches the swim team and coordinates swim lessons at Colony pool in Newport News, and coaches year-round with the Coast Guard Blue Dolphins.
"What we see is this fall, we'll see an increase in kids who sign up for year-round activities," Clark said. "The Olympics sparks excitement, so what this did for kids over the summer is they want to see themselves be more successful. I saw this last time the Olympics came around also. They push themselves a little bit harder because they see that happening on TV every day.