Stingrays swimmer Kaden Arnold competes in an earlier meet this summer. | File photo

Stingrays to swim it up at District

Published 12:00am Friday, July 16, 2010

It’s been more than three weeks since the Andalusia Stingrays swam in a competitive race, and coaches Gavin Donaldson and Barbara Peek both said they are “ready” to compete in the 2010 Alabama Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) District VI meet tomorrow in Eufaula.

The Stingrays will make the 2-and-a-half-hour commute to Eufaula, and will try to defend their 2009 district title.

In 2009, Andalusia beat Dothan, Troy and Eufaula scoring 2,974 points.

This year, the Stingrays will face all three mentioned, plus a team from Ft. Rucker.

For Donaldson, the 11-and-ups coach, the team has been hitting the practice lanes leading up to the meet.

“It’s been three weeks since we last competed, and they’ve worked real hard,” Donaldson said. “Pretty much, we’ve been practicing in strength and endurance during the week and technique during the weekend on Saturdays.”

Each swimmer will be placed in a seed in their respective age group, and Peek, the 10-and-unders coach, said this can be a good thing.

“We’ve got quite a few kids that are in a good spot,” Peek said. “If they swim their best and clean they can, they may have a chance to make it to state.

“I’m real optimistic with what younger crowd can do,” she said.

In the 10-and-under group, there are eight swimmers that have seed qualifying times that exceed state qualifying times.

Leading up to the district meet tomorrow, the Stingrays have competed in four meets.

“As far as where we are right now, I think for 12 weeks, they’re on top of their game,” Donaldson said. “I don’t believe that I’ve seen them swim their fastest times yet. Simply due to we haven’t been in any water in the last three weeks that has been cool enough to swim some fast times. They’re ready. They’re ready to get after it.”

The district meet’s water will be much cooler than the water at Cooper Pool, which can yield faster swim times.

Peek said the swimmers tend to do better in cooler water.

“Generally, our kids swim better when it’s cooler,” she said. “It keeps you going. This water (at Cooper Pool), it wears you out.

“The cooler water will help,” she said. “I’m really glad we’re swimming in a pool they’ve been to before. When we had district in Dothan, it was a little intimidating. It’s hard to stay focused when you’ve been to a pool we’ve never been to before.”

With any meet that takes place, disqualifications can happen, and the team goal for Andalusia is acquiring zero “DQs.”

“This will be the first officiated meet of the season that the swimmers have participated in,” Donaldson said. “Whether it’s a fun meet or an officiated meet, they’re going to swim and have focus on what they’re doing during that time frame. A disqualification might happen, but the team goal is zero.

“The kids don’t go out there and intentionally disqualify,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s just a short lapse, and it happens. I hope it doesn’t happen, but those are some things that can happen.”

Peek echoed what Donaldson said about the disqualifications.

“We’ve been working really hard on not getting DQed,” she said. “A lot of programs have the luxury of time that we don’t have. We don’t have that, and we don’t have the time with 11-year-olds to teach swim strokes.

“All in all, the kids who will be swimming the (freestyle and back) strokes know those strokes,” she said. “Although, nerves might come in to play. It’s definitely not due to a lack of trying. I feel pretty good. They’ll definitely be doing their best. I’ll be proud of the effort they’ll put forth on Saturday.”

Donaldson said that the team is ready, and has been ready for Saturday’s meet.

“I have 23 kids, and they’re 23 strong,” he said. “They’re strong swimmers, and they’re ready. They would go do it today. They’re at that point in the season that they’re talking about it, and they’re tired of hearing me talk about it. They’re ready to let their actions speak for the team.

“This is a great group of kids,” he said. “The one thing that this team has represented is class, character and integrity, and they take that everywhere they go. It doesn’t matter what meet we go to. They’re going to represent ASL they way it should be represented.”

The meet will start at 11:30 a.m.

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