CALLING ALL SWIMMERS: CAST becomes approved USA Swimming team

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2019

The newly formed Covington Aquatics Swim Team Barracudas have officially been approved to become part of USA Swimming.

“The approval under USA Swimming makes us part of the largest and most recognizable swim organizations in the country,” CAST coach Darren Forry said. “We will be part of the local swim committee (Southeastern Swimming). It consists of Alabama, Tennessee and the Florida panhandle.”

CAST head coach Gavin Donaldson said that Southeastern Swimming is a large region.

“It is one of the largest in the United States,” Donaldson said. “There are over 3,000 swimmers in our region and it gives the swimmers the ability to swim against those states and another level of competition. At the championship level, a swimmer is the in the same pool as possible Olympic competition at any time.”

Forry said that being a USA Swimming approved team allows the local swimmers to gain more exposure from colleges.

“It gives the kids in our area the chance to also be seen by colleges as their performances are recorded on a national database used by virtually all schools to see kids’ numbers,” Forry said. “This is the only channel that makes them visible to not only our area, but the entire country, therefore it enhances the chances of scholarships. We have had three swimmers over the past few years move on to the college level as elite performers. Brandon Donaldson at Wisconsin Stevens Point, Marty Beth Baker at Rhodes College and Cali Fillmer currenty with Berry College.”

Donaldson said this also gives local swimmers opportunity to compete at the high school level.

“As for high school swim, we are able to provide the opportunity for kids to compete for their respective schools in our county and extended area,” Donaldson said. “There are certain requirements needed from the schools, but we expect to have representation for Andalusia, Opp, Straughn and Red Level immediately,” Donaldson said. “Unfortunately, in the past some swimmers were unable to compete at this level due to travel and distance to do so. The next closest USA teams are in Dothan or Troy, and now it is in our own backyard.”

The team expects participation to increase after becoming USA approved.

“We expect to see a ramp up in participation throughout the entire county and are proud to provide this to the area,” Forry said. “Our meets have not been finalized yet, but expect to have them on a monthly basis. There are competitions ranging from Panama City and Pensacola and up to Birmingham and Auburn. Those are places we are looking into.”