The Dawsonville Racers have been making a splash at Veterans Memorial Park as they train during the week for summer swim meets.
The park and rec summer league has 64 swimmers this year ranging from five to 18 years old with all levels of swimming abilities represented which can be challenging.
“That’s the hard thing with summer league is because you’ve got to make it fun because it’s their summer but yet you still want to give them a good workout and train them,” said Head Coach Stephanie Morgan.
Morgan has always loved the water and began swimming competitively when she a child. She has coached the Dawsonville Racers since 2004 when she took over from her former swim coach.
“Some of these little ones have been with me since they were itty bitty and now I get to watch them grow up,” said Morgan. “Some of my coaches now swam with me since they were like eight and under and now they’re helping me coach.”
The swimmers are divided up by skill level so each group can work towards getting better and honing their skills with different strokes.
“It’s hard with summer league because you have such a difference in skill level because I have beginners who have never competed before and then I have swimmers that swim year round,” said Morgan. “That’s the hard thing with swimming. It’s not really about your age. It’s about your skill level because water’s serious. It’s not like falling down playing basketball or on the baseball field. I mean, you can get hurt there too but this could be life threatening if somebody gets run over and pushed under water and we don’t see it so they have to have their skill level.”
Morgan, along with her trainer Lauren Bell and three junior coaches Sara Beth Osaben, Martha Corinn Thompson and Hannah Mulder, make sure that each kid stays safe and has fun during every practice and meet.
The Dawsonville Racers is an eclectic group of swimmers with beginners competing for the first time, to more advanced swimmers who recently traveled to Winder for an intense pentathlon event June 16.
“This is the meet for our more advanced swimmers. A lot of them swim year round. A lot of them are the ones that have been to state in the past years so I just want them to see good improved personal times and feel confident with their performance because it’s hard. This meet is tough. There is a lot of fast people,” said Morgan.
Swimmers must swim each of the five strokes and receive a score at the end of the event with their cumulative time. The top ten receive awards.
The Saturday meets are more competitive than the week meets. On Saturdays, the Dawsonville Racers might race against 30 kids whereas on a week heat meet they only race against five.
The Racers will be hosting a home meet June 23 at Veterans Memorial Park where the kids will have a chance to compete against other swimmers from around the state.
But not all of the Racers join the team to compete. Several are athletes from the high school who train with the team in the summer and just enjoy being in the water.
“A lot of kids who don’t have coordination in other sports can come to swimming and benefit from the water because it helps you endurance-wise, coordination, all kinds of good, positive things,” Morgan said.
When the eight week long summer program comes to an end and many of the young swimmers get out of the pool and go back to school, Morgan hopes that she has instilled a love of a lifelong sport.
“Not only for competition but as something they can use for their lifetime for their health and physical activity and just in general positive attitudes towards other people because we have to work as a team even though it’s an individual sport,” said Morgan.
The Dawsonville Racers will begin warmups for their June 23 meet at 7:30 a.m.