Family First, and Then Swimming

GOLD RIVER, CA (MPG)  |  Story by Jan Float; Photos by Tom Jones
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GOLD RIVER, CA (MPG) - The Bortolettos, a tightly-knit and fun foursome, could undoubtedly perform as an award- winning relay. To head the race, Dad Michael would swim the first leg, Mom Katie dive in for the second, 12-year-old Joseph third, and Luca as the 11-year-old anchor. This Family First is first to the wall time and time again.

With well-placed priorities -- faith, family and friends -- the Bortolettos create their own special brand of magic that lends itself to this family-oriented sport. In 2000, with a genuine passion for swimming, Mom Katie assumed a secondary role (aka Coach Katie) and hasn’t looked back. She embarked on a career with many regional teams, one of which is Johnson Ranch, a Gold River sister club.

For six years Katie was on the Stingrays’ deck and, two seasons ago, decided to commute from Roseville for their Family First to rejoin the team. As Coach Katie espouses, “Swimming teaches so many lifelong lessons; and I enjoy the process of the athletes learning to work hard, improve beyond their Beliefs and acquire a love for the sport.”

Joseph and Luca swam in the same age group this year, the 11-12s. Though fiercely competitive, it’s never against one another. Family First! Their quips and quotes are typically thoughtful and engaging. “I love all of my friends,” says Joseph, “and how good my body feels after one of Coach Jeff’s workouts.” As for Luca, “Swimming is so fun, and Coach Jeff has taught me to ‘Believe’ in myself and my teammates.” A loud Shout-Out here to the entire coaching staff, each one putting the boys “in the fast lane” … and on to faster and fastest! Exemplified by Luca’s “Believe” citation, the Stingrays’ cheer “I Believe - We Believe” is a double-entendre in the Bortoletto household.

This Family First is assuredly one of the most well-rounded you’ll ever meet. Integrated into Dad Mike’s employment as sales manager of his company’s utility division, all four appreciate The Great Outdoors: hiking, basking in its scenery, playing with creepy crawlers and maintaining a prolific vegetable garden. Both sons, with a strong emphasis on academics, are home-schooled and often visit the areas about which they’re being taught.

But that’s just for starters. In addition, Joseph and Luca are active participants in the youth group at their church, Boy Scouts’ Tenderfoot and Star ranks, the US Navy League Cadet Corps, mixed martial arts with brown and red belts, an Olympic-styled junior rifle club, lacrosse and golf with Dad. And did we mention swimming? Depicted here is Luca, well ahead of the pack, exactly where he persists and insists on staying.

Availing themselves of these all-embracing opportunities, the Family First brothers are fortunate to be indoctrinated into an adulthood of Belief, life skills, respect, patriotism, discipline, athleticism, solid character and good sportsmanship – which, in the long run, create an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and insatiable curiosity about the world.

This Family First, inspiring and admirable, can readily induce a Cause for Pause. Revisiting priorities, and sometimes revising them, is essential in today’s high-speed society. The Stingrays “Believe” the Bortolettos are a first-rate family and consider themselves privileged and proud to have them on-deck.