Stingrays swim into action today

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 29, 2010

Andalusia's Ethan King practices his butterfly stroke Thursday night. | Andrew Garner - Star-News

Andalusia Stingrays coaches Barbara Peek and Gavin Donaldson both say they are excited about what this summer will bring for the swim team.

Today, the Stingrays will get their first taste of competition at the annual intersquad meet, scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. at Cooper Pool. Warm-ups are at 9 a.m.

The meet will basically consist of the entire swim team competing against each other, and also to be a learning experience for the parents, new and young swimmers.

“I’m real excited to see what they’re going to do in competition,” Peek said.

Peek coaches the 10-and-under group on the team, and said that they have picked up a few new swimmers.

She said at least four new swimmers from Opp joined the team.

“Of all of the years that I have coached, this has gotten to be one of the best starts,” Peek said. “They’re swimmers already, so basically we’re teaching them how to race.

“They’ve really progressed quickly,” she said. “I’m really impressed with what they’ve done.”

Donaldson, who coaches the 11-and-up group, said he is anticipating his team do well this summer.

“I’m excited about this season, and what they’re going to do,” he said. “I’m going to give them the tools to achieve their goals.

“One of the team goals this year is for all swimmers to exceed the state qualifying times at the district meet,” he said. “Every one of them is capable of doing it, but they’re going to have to push hard in this short time to achieve it.”

The short time Donaldson is referring to is the amount meets the Stingrays will compete in this summer.

For the 10-and-under group, Peek said her team’s goal is to have no disqualifications at the district tournament in Eufaula on July 17.

“For the younger group, that’s a big deal,” she said. “I would like for our breast stroke and our butterfly, which is our most (disqualified) of anything.”

After the intersquad meet today, the Stingrays will travel to Eufaula on Sat., June 5 to face the host team and Troy. Their only home meet will be on Mon., June 21 against Troy and Eufaula.

Both Donaldson and Peek said that Eufaula and Troy are good teams, that compete on an annual basis.

However, the Stingrays have been holding fall and winter practice sessions at the Opp Mizell Wellness Center every Sunday since the end of last year.

Donaldson said the sessions have helped the swimmers a lot.

“The more time you are in the water, the better your technique will be,” he said. “It’s very difficult to train for swimming outside of the pool. You can train outside of the pool, but nothing replicates what the water does. You’ve got the gravity and resistance of the water constantly.”

Peek said the sessions have helped the new swimmers.

“They were ready,” she said. “Swimming over in Opp really helped those brand new kids to be ready for what I was asking them to do.

“The rookies are exceeding my expectations,” she said.

The last five practices at Cooper Pool have been good ones where the swimmers have done everything that was asked of them, Donaldson said.

“The team has worked extremely hard these last four practices, and they’ve been some pretty enduring and grueling practices,” he said. “Every time I’ve set practice goals and team goals, they always go above and beyond my expectations of what they’re doing.

“They continually amaze me at what they can do in such a short period of time,” he said.