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Growing splashes
Farragut area community youth swim teams, coaches take the smallest children from simple strokes to the edge of adulthood

You can hear the collective shudder of parents echo throughout West Knoxville and Farragut when the last school bell of the year sounds marking the beginning of summer vacation.

For about three months out of the year, parents are left defenseless to the unending energy of their children.

That is, unless, they are lucky enough to discover the ultimate weapon against summer boredom that will make both them and their child in high spirits summer swim team.

For the price of a Speedo and a hardy investment in three-dozen pairs of swim goggles, every one of which will be lost by September, parents and swimmers are taking to the lanes for another three-month summer filled with a lifetime of memories.

Sixteen-year veteran coach of the Village Green Gators, Anita Dinwiddie, said that her favorite memories of coaching summer swim team are in the chances she gets to watch her swimmers mature.

My favorite part of coaching is watching these kids grow up. After sixteen years, Ive watched some of these kids swim for me as little kids and now Im starting to get invited to their weddings, she said.

JoAnna Lochen, coach at Concord Hills Recreation Association, is stressed the bond that forms in such a short period between she and her swimmers. I love getting to know these kids, Lochen said. Just having the chance to be around such great kids is my favorite part of coaching.

Lasting relationships are not the only thing that summer swimmers are gaining from there experience. With swimming, kids can walk away with skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.

Dinwiddie said, I try to focus on the whole swimmer. Besides strokes and times, I want the kids to walk away with self-confidence, responsibility and accountability.

The growth of summer swimmers out of the pool can be seen in the pool as well. I love to watch the kids develop from season to season, Danny Fleming, six-year Gulf Park head coach, said. We start them with stroke and technique and then move from square one on. To see the kids improve from the beginning of the summer to the end at the city championship meet is great.

The Knoxville areas program for summer swimmers does more than test swimmers progress with local dual-meets.

Regional teams come together twice a summer for the Smoky Mountain Invitational, held in Alcoa at Springbrook pool, and the City Championship meet held annually at the Aquatic Center on the University of Tennessee campus.

It is here that swimmers can showcase their talents against competition from local pools.

It is in these type atmospheres that the competitive side of the swimmer is shaped even more so today than in years passed, Dinwiddie said, adding, The sport has grown. There use to be a small minority of the really competitive swimmers. Now, a lot more people are competing at that high level of competition.

Lochen added, I love the big meet atmosphere. There is nothing like when a big relay is in the pool and everybody is crowded around going crazy.


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