Stingrays’ winter swim in full swing

Published 12:01 am Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Andalusia Stingrays hold their winter swim program on Sunday afternoons at Mizell Wellness Center in Opp. | File photo

The Andalusia Stingrays hold their winter swim program on Sunday afternoons at Mizell Wellness Center in Opp. | File photo

Swimming during the winter?

That’s exactly what the Andalusia Stingrays are doing as they kicked off their off-season winter session at the Opp Mizell Wellness Center last Sunday.

Since the fall of 2009, Stingrays swimmers — veterans and newcomers alike — have participated in the once-a-week program that’s designed to focus solely on technique. During the summer, the Andalusia swim team focuses more on endurance to get ready for meets.

Andy Shaddix, one of the three Stingrays coaches instructing the winter program, said the main benefit right now is how much individual instruction there is during the session, which lasts a total of 14 Sundays.

“The best thing about the Opp swim going on right now is that I’ve capped it at 25 swimmers total, whether it’s returning swimmers or newer swimmers,” Shaddix said. “That gives us more one on one time, plus there’s going to be three coaches.”

In addition to Shaddix, long-time Stingrays swimmers Mary and Judy Johnson will be instructing the newer swimmers.

When asked if the program is more about the “fundamentals” of swimming, Shaddix gave an example of a swimmer who knew how to swim one particular stroke, but didn’t do it quite well.

“For years he had been more of a freestyler and racer, and last year he came to the offseason and started working on the (butterfly stroke) a little bit,” Shaddix said. “He knew how to do it, but wasn’t very good at it. That summer, it was one of his better strokes.”

Last week, Shaddix said about 10 swimmers showed up for the first Sunday, and there are three or five more coming this week.

Those who are interested in participating in the winter swim session need only show up at the Mizell Wellness Center in Opp, which is located on Brantley Street and is right across from Chanell-Lee Stadium.

Right now, there are kids ages 6-7 and all the way up to 16-17 participating, Shaddix said.

Additionally, Shaddix said interested swimmers need to be “comfortable” in the water.

“It helps,” he said when asked if participants need to know how to swim. “They need to be comfortable in the water. Sure, they can doggy paddle, as long as they have a strong doggy paddle, and don’t freak out. It’s preferable.”

Cost of the swim session is $30 per swimmer, and the program is pro-rated, which means that the cost does go down depending how many weeks are left. The swim session meets every Sunday afternoon from 2-4, and lasts until April 13.

The benefits of the winter program show during the summer months, Shaddix said.

“It’s helped immensely,” he said. “You can slways tell the difference with the swimmers who came in the offseason and the ones who showed up during the summer,” he said.