So about that development thing when it comes to youth sports, it seems it’s catching on.
The Polar Bear Swim Club gave the youngest portion of its club swimmers a chance to race in a meet as it held the Polar Pups mini-meet for the first time at the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool on Oct. 27. More than 20 young swimmers in the tadpoles, puddle ducks and dolphin divisions hit the water for the first time in an actual competition and they seemed to have a blast.
Jane Mooney, the club’s head coach, said the big idea behind the meet was to get the young swimmers thinking about competition at an early age.
“There’s a gap between the beginners and the U10 group, the first chance they get to compete,” she said. “Our younger swimmers are part of the Long-Term Athletic Development program now and so we wanted to give them a chance to get in some extra races.”
Most of the swimmers got to race in 25-metre and 50-metre distance events while some who were old enough or experienced enough took on 100-metre races. Because some of the swimmers aren’t exactly tearing it up, they were able to use flotation devices, such as a life jacket or flutterboard, and some races were also held with just kicking.
“If they were able to do it without the board, they could,” said Mooney. “Some of the swimmers forgot to use their arms when they were swimming and we had the coaches shouting to use their arms.”
No matter what they did, Mooney said everyone got the same exact amount of events.
“Everyone got to race in four events,” she said. “We wanted to give them as much of a chance to earn points toward the final results.”
To make sure everyone stayed safe, some of the club’s senior swimmers were in the water just in case something happened and Mooney said they were under strict instructions not to get in the swimmers’ way unless they appeared to be in distress.
“Some of the kids aren’t able to handle the pressure at that young age,” she said. “The older swimmers were out there as a safety device and help calm the kids down, tell them they’re doing fine.”
When it came to the overall results, one of the big winners was Neylan Stanislaus, who competed in the boys six and under division. He won all of his races to earn the maximum 80 points, 20 points for each win. Rory Lockhart was also another overall winner having claimed the gold medal in the girls six and under division. She won three events and was second in another for a grand total of 77 points.
After the racing, the swimmers all got to enjoy pizza, the preferred post-event meal for young athletes, and received their awards.
Mooney said there was plenty of pride among the group when they got those.
“They were very proud of themselves and they should be,” she said. “They’ve all challenged their parents to match the times they put up and that could be interesting to watch.”