From Japan to Farragut, 10-year-old Jumpei Shiono has come a long way in slightly more than one year.
“Jumpei is amazing, I love Jumpei,” Faith Presnell, a parent whose three sons swim for Concord Hills Piranhas community team, said about her boys’ teammate.
“Last year was his first year on the team, and in the country. … He knew no English, nothing about the way our system worked. … He didn’t even know how to read our numbering system,” Presnell said.
“This year he’s doing it all himself. … He now speaks fairly good English. He’s friends with everyone. He’s got a cute little fun spirit.”
“He loves the water. Jumpei was signed up for the swim team at Concord Hills in the 2015 season, just a month after arriving [in the United States in April 2015],” Jumpei’s mother, Satomi Shiono, said through interpreter and
family friend Michele Nishida. “Everyone was very kind and helpful, and very understanding of the fact that we don’t understand English well.”
The family lives in Biltmore Forest subdivision.
“Leo Davis and Cade Austin became his meet buddies. They would get his cards and take him to where he needed to be and make sure he knew which stroke to swim,” Satomi said about Jumpei’s teammates. “Their mothers, Christy Davis and Laura Austin, very kindly gave us rides to some of the meets because we were still so unfamiliar with the roads here.
“Melissa Doerr, Faith Presnell and Cai Shafer were so helpful too. The newsletter and e-mails were copied to Michele so that we would know what was going on,” Satomi added. “Instead of saying to us, ‘You don’t have to do anything,’ they gave us non-speaking jobs to accommodate, yet make us feel included.
“We felt we were very warmly welcomed. The coaches used demonstration and hands-on approaches with Jumpei. They were excited to have him on the team.”
Presnell’s three sons on the Piranhas team are Jackson, 12, Bryson, 10, and Colson, 7.
They have been Concord
Hills residents for about four years after moving from Chicago. “It’s a great family sport. They like the fact that they all swim together,” Presnell said. “My bo-ys love each other. … Ra-rely do my kids fight. I’m very blessed.”
Having been a member of a swim team in Naperville, Ill., near Chicago, “They weren’t bad, they were supportive. But it was simply more competitive,” Presnell said about Chicago City League. “Concord Hills tries to make their team fun.”
Though 8-year-old team member Aydan Skelton likes hockey, “Swimming is her favorite,” Jordan Skelton, Aydan’s mother, said. “Butterfly is her favorite event. It was freestyle. … And she has so many friends.”
In her fourth year on the team, Jordan said her daughter can’t
get enough time in the pool. “We’re here sometimes twice a day practicing. She loves it, she begs us,” Jordan, a former
lifeguard at Concord Hills pool, said.
Although Will and Sue Pendleton don’t live in Concord Hills, this Farragut family has been well received by the team. “We love the pool, the team, the neighborhood,” Will said.
Wyatt, 13, and Isabel, 10, have been on the team “five or six years,” Will said.
The siblings are quite competitive.
“To compete with her brother, her favorite [stroke] might be the butterfly,” Will said. “She likes to keep up.”
Sue “was a competitive swimmer in high school” outside of Tennessee, Will said.
After mom suggested the children join the Concord Hills team, “I went along with it, and after one summer they could swim circles around me,” Will said.