Swimming under the stars

Published 4:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Stingrays will host their first home swim meet of the summer Monday night. | Andrew Garner, Star-News

Under starry skies on a summer night, the Andalusia Stingrays will host their first swim meet next Mon., June 21 at Cooper Pool.

Throughout this summer, the Stingrays have made trips to Eufaula and Troy, respectively, having to bear the summer heat.

“In all of this heat, I’m very much looking forward to swimming under the stars,” 10-and-under coach Barbara Peek said. “It was so hot in Troy, and I think the kids will swim better, so I’m looking forward to a night meet.”

The meet will begin at 6 p.m., with warm ups at 5.

After every meet that the Stingrays have competed in this summer, Peek and 11-and-up coach Gavin Donaldson have taken extensive notes on what needs improving.

Peek said with every practice each week, the kids work hard to get better.

“The kids have just been improving and improving with every practice,” she said. “With every practice we’re able to — in contrast to other sports — is that we compete in practice at the same time.

“I know that they will be even faster on Monday night than they have been because they’re just really focused and working really hard.”

And with each meet, the times each swimmer has posted are faster, Peek said.

“That tends to happen,” Peek said. “Gavin has seen a lot of success. His kids are real focused. The fact that they’re old enough, and that they have swam long enough to know where we’re coming from, and where we are really motivates those kids.”

Donaldson said that his team has drastically improved throughout the summer.

Between the Eufaula and Troy meets, 43 times were faster, and 22 times are now five seconds or less from the state qualifying times, Donaldson said.

“They know as a team what it takes to perform at this level,” he said. “Some of them are getting there and some of them need some work.

“This week, we’ve been working on more endurance,” he said. “Being that we have such a short time. I’ve also been focusing on quicker and stronger starts. Overall, the team is swimming faster than in years past this early in the season.”

Given that the Stingrays has a lot of new swimmers, Peek said the kids have been “dedicated” this summer.

“You’re not seeing back yard swimming anymore,” she said. “This year, the kids who have signed up in their first year have really been dedicated in doing the best that they can. It’s reflected in those times because they’re getting faster and faster and faster.”

In addition, Peek said she hopes people will come out Monday night who are maybe interested in the swim team or just want to see what it’s all about.

“I would love for people to come out and see what it’s all about,” Peek said. “This is a great opportunity for parents and kids to see what a competition is like.”

As a bit of inspiration for the team, Donaldson said he gave a little pep talk to his team at practice this week.

“I’m extra proud of their hard work this week,” he said. “We’re in our house on Monday. Like I told the team, we must protect our house.”