Stingrays ready for state championships

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stingrays swimmer BJ Donaldson practices his turn Thursday night at Cooper Pool. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

In a little less than a day from now, 30 Andalusia Stingrays swimmers will compete in the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association’s state swim meet in Cullman — an event they’ve been working toward all summer.

The state swim meet will take place more than three days — today through Saturday — at the eight-lane outdoor pool. The diving tournament will take place today, and the swimming tournament will take place Friday and Saturday.

There are 1,000 people slated to attend the state meet, according to the Cullman Times.

Thirty Andalusia Stingrays qualified for state this week after posting exceeding times at the district meet July 16 in Dothan.

Approximately 12 swimmers from the 7-10 age group, and more than 15 from the 11-and-up group will participate in the meet this week.

“What you’ve got is the best in the state from all of the districts represented,” 11-and-up coach Gavin Donaldson said. “A lot of these kids are seeded well, even the ones that are not.

“I told them, ‘the qualifier was at district. These are the finals right here,'” he said. “‘You’ve got one shot, one opportunity. What you do with that opportunity is your choice.'”

Warm ups will take place from 7:45 a.m. until 9:45 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, the meet will begin at 10 a.m. with the individual medley, breaststroke and short freestyle events. An hour break will follow and medley relays will begin shortly afterward, from approximately 1:15 p.m. to 3:05 p.m.

On Saturday, warm ups will stay the same, and the meet will begin at 10 a.m. with the butterfly, backstroke and long freestyle events. An hour break will follow and free relays will begin shortly afterward, from approximately 1:15 p.m. to 3:05 p.m.

Carrie Browning, interim 10-and-under coach for Candy Parker who is on a mission trip in Haiti, said the kids are “ready” for the meet.

“I think we’re going to do real well,” Browning said. “We’ve been practicing our relays. We’ve had some good relays going.

“We think we’re going to do real well this year,” she said. “I’m very proud of all of our swimmers.”

Seven-and-8-year-old coach Andy Shaddix said he’s looking forward to seeing what the younger swimmers will do over the next two days.

“They know what’s coming up for state and they know what they need to do (to succeed),” Shaddix said. “Even though they won their races at district, they weren’t happy on their times. They’re determined to do better at state.”

Fast-paced practices and more yards swam have been a staple during practice at Cooper Pool this past week, Donaldson said.

“This team is where they needed to be two weeks ago,” he said. “Right now, the practices are what they should’ve been two weeks ago. I’m excited to see the full potential of this team here at state.

“I think there’s a lot of the team members that have an opportunity to be seeded well,” he said. “They have an opportunity to go in there to meet the challenge. I’m just ready to get up there and see what happens.”