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Ready for district

Today, the Andalusia Stingrays swim team will be racing against the clock at the District VI swim meet in Dothan in hopes of qualifying to compete at the state level.

The Stingrays will be competing against Dothan, Troy and Eufaula at the meet in the pool next to Water World. The meet starts at 9 a.m.

Each swimmer, in order to qualify for the state meet, must finish in the top three of his or her swimming category.

Last year, the Stingrays won the district championship.

Ten-and-under coach Barbara Peek said the meet today is a “big deal” for the kids.

“We’ve been practicing, even though this rain has been killing us in our last week of practice before this meet,” Peek said. “We’re real excited about it. I have a lot of kids who are in a good place. They’ve finished well against Troy and Eufaula and I have a lot of really good hopes of how they are going to do at district.”

Peek said in order to get ready for the district meet today, the swimmers have been fine-tuning their start times.

“We’ve been practicing our starts to get faster and been really gung ho about getting out there and swimming in Dothan,” she said. “We’re looking forward to swimming in a pool that has cooler water.”

Competition pool water temperature is between 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, 11-and-up coach Gavin Donaldson said.

“You get optimal performance in cooler water,” Donaldson said. “So, I’m excited to see how they are going to do in competition temp water.”

Donaldson is taking 28 swimmers with him to the meet today and said he is confident they’ll do well.

“They have worked extremely hard these last two weeks to improve their endurance as well as their technique,” he said. “Like I said, they’re swimming times faster than what they posted last year at district.

“This will be the first time that they’ll be swimming in competition temp water,” he said. “The water that’s in our pool and Troy’s pool is a lot warmer. If the pool is a lot warmer, then the times are slower.”

Peek said her swimmers are “excited” about swimming at the district meet today.

“The season has been a little odd this year because we’ve had a couple of meets canceled,” Peek said. “So, they’re really jazzed about getting there, especially the older kids getting there before. The newer kids are little bit nervous because they’ve never had the judges looking at them.

“My veterans are ready to get it done and get there and swim their best,” she said. “They always swim their best when they get there. It’s amazing. They do tremendous things they don’t do in practice. They really step it up when they get there.”

Donaldson said that all he is asking his swimmers to do is their “best.”

“They’re ready to go get after it,” he said. “We had a short practice (Thursday night) due to weather, but they’re confident in what they can do. They’re ready to hit the water and get after it and do their best.

“That’s all I can ask them to do,” he said. “When they load the block, they have one shot, one opportunity. (I tell them) don’t leave it in the water and swim your absolute very best race.”