Stingrays head to state meet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2010

Andalusia’s Ashlyn Nall works on her freestyle at a practice session this season. Nall, and approximately 45 of her fellow team members will compete in this week’s state swim meet in Valley, Ala. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

From July 30-31, approximately 40-45 Stingrays will be among an estimated 1,300 to 1,700 swimmers competing in the 2010 Alabama Parks and Recreation Association’s state swim meet in Valley, Ala.

The eight-lane 25-yard competition style pool will provide the perfect back drop for the pinnacle of the Stingrays’ season, according to the Valley Area Swim Team’s website.

“They’re ready,” 10-and-under coach Barbara Peek said about her swimmers.

There are approximately 20 swimmers competing in the state meet in the 10-and-under group. Those 20 swimmers will also make up five relay teams.

Peek said there are a lot of first-timers among the group of younger kids.

“They’re ready to see what they can accomplish,” she said. “We still have kids taking multiple seconds off of their times. You never know what’s going to happen.”

In the 11-and-up age group, 15 swimmers qualified for the state meet individually, and 22 of 23 qualified individually combined with relay teams, coach Gavin Donaldson said.

“They’ve got one more opportunity to prove their team,” Donaldson said. “One more opportunity to compete this year, and they’ll bring it.”

Tuesday was the last practice this season for the Stingrays because of the state meet.

“Like I told them before the district meet (where the Stingrays finished in second place), I don’t think I’ve seen them swim their fastest times yet,” Donaldson said. “I told them again (Tuesday night), we’ve had two more weeks to prepare, and it’s going to be three months versus 12 months, which is what it boils down to.

“I fully believe that I will see fast times at state,” he said.

This has been an impressive season for the 11-and-ups swim team, and Donaldson said out of the swimmers competing at the state tournament this week, there have been 37 personal best times this year, and 29 of those 37 were personal best ever to have been recorded at the district meet.

“I’m extremely proud of the way they compete,” he said. “They’ve conducted themselves well. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of individuals. They’re all about class. They’re a class act, and they represent themselves and their team in that way.”

And in true coaching fashion, Donaldson said he is “excited” to see what his team can do at the state meet.

“This is one of the best teams that I’ve been associated with from top to bottom,” he said. “I’m excited to see what kind of times they’ll produce at state. Come Saturday afternoon, and it’ll all be said and done, and we’ll see how it all it shakes out.”

Warm-ups Friday morning are at 7:45 a.m., and the meet starts at 10 a.m.