Stingrays aim for success at district meet in Dothan

Published 12:01 am Saturday, July 12, 2014

0712 spt-Sara Catherine Sansom

Stingrays swimmer Sara Catherine Sansom practices her backstroke Tuesday night. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

The sun baked down on the Andalusia Stingrays Tuesday night as they practiced to get ready for today’s Alabama Recreation and Parks Association’s District Swim Meet at the Westgate Recreation Center in Dothan.

Temperatures did run high for the Stingrays the other night, but fortunately Dothan’s pool yields cooler water temperatures, which allows the swimmers to post faster times.

At this stage, timing is everything. The top four finishers in each event automatically get a state swim meet bid. Additionally, those who swim well enough to claim the 12 spots below the top four also get a state berth.

“I feel good about where they are,” Stingrays advanced coach Gavin Donaldson said. “It’s hard to tell because the pool water is so hot. Fortunately, we haven’t had to deal with too many thunderstorms, so every practice has been beneficial and counted toward working in toward the last three weeks.”

Donaldson said he gave his group a mid-season break to allow their bodies to rest.

“The last two weeks I’ve hit them hard,” he said. “They should turn out some fast times. Dothan’s pool is a pretty fast pool.”

As of today’s meet, Donaldson said 15 of his swimmers are posting either state qualifying or top four seeded times going into district.

For the intermediate group, Stingrays coach Andy Shaddix said around seven swimmers are putting out state qualifying times in their events.

“I think they’re ready,” Shaddix said about his group. “Everybody’s bought into it now. In the beginning of the year, I did it a little bit different. Some of the returning swimmers were like ‘what is this?’

“But, at the end of the day, everybody’s times are getting better,” he said.

Shaddix said he expects good things to come from the group at the district meet.

“In Dothan, we always put up faster times,” he said. “Dothan’s always a pool we swim fast in. We swim faster in Dothan than anywhere else. I’m actually looking forward to it.”

Stingrays beginners coach Carrie Browning said she’s excited because a bunch of her kids are swimming at district for the first time.

“We’re all looking for several time drops,” Browning said. “We’ve been practicing with a lot of yardage for the eight and unders. I’m looking for several of them to go to state.”

Browning said six to seven of her kids are in the running to qualify for the state meet in freestyle or backstroke.

Warmups today start at 8 a.m. with the district meet starting at 9 a.m.

The state meet will be held at the Birmingham Crossplex July 25-26.