Swim Club a place of growth, summer fun

By Paige Lambert

The buzzer sounded and six swimmers jumped into the pool, racing to beat their own time and other swimmers in the heat. Once they reach the other side, the winners are given ribbons, which they stick to their suits and run to show their parents.

The sights and smells are a typical part of a Saturday for the Hays Swim Club, but the sport is much more than winning a ribbon. 

The club, created in 2007 by coach Scott Brown, began mainly as a summer league. Now the club has about 150 kids on the team, ranging from ages five to 18 years old. 

Brown said one of the great things about having a neighborhood swim team is teaching the kids to feel comfortable and safe in the water.

“It’s a fun thing to do and being able to be safe in the water, being able to get yourself to the side or stay afloat until someone can rescue you, that’s number one,” Brown said. 

Along with learning to be safe, the kids learn a sport that they can continue forever.

“As a mom, my favorite part is that they will be able to exercise for the rest of their lives,” Rebecca Percuccas, who has three children on the team, said. “And they don’t think of it as working out, they just enjoy swimming.”

Many of the swimmers are under age ten and have been swimming since they were even younger. 

“We have had many talented swimmers come through our program,” Brown said. “We’ve got one, she’s eight now, but she’s been with us since she was four and she’s setting all the league records.”

For her mom, Lorisa Kanary, swimming just began as a way to teach Karina to be safe in the water.

“Now when she gets into water she’s like a little fish,” Kanary said. “She was good right away. In a month, she was so good I was shaken that she competed so well.”

To prepare for the meets, swimmers practice four times a week. Sarah Cavazos, associate coach, said some even ask how they can practice while away from home.

“It becomes a part of their life, a thing that they are used to and they make sure they keep up that activity,” Cavazos said. 

Cavazos said that dedication to the summer league is hard work and gives the kids a sense of accomplishment.

“They go from not being able to get down the pool to competing at UT in the championships,” Cavazos said. “It instills a lot of confidence and pride in them.”

For some, that confidence and love for the sport could lead them past neighborhood swim teams.

“My dream is to become an Olympic swimmer. I want to go to the Olympics 2020,” Kate Heldstad, a senior swimmer, said. “My coaches keep encouraging me, and to do little accomplishments to get me to that dream.”

Not all will push for the Olympic level, but Brown said that is the great thing about swimming. 

“You can always pick and choose what you want to measure yourself by and they are all valid measurements,” Brown said. “It’s not just a win or lose.”

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