The sport of swimming has to be one of the best sports for the human body. Close to every muscle in the body is used. It is a cardio sport, and even better, the bones take no pounding. I would often visit doctors throughout my sports career because of injuries. Most of them would say, “I recommend doing some swimming for therapy.”
At McNary High School in Keizer, Oregon, the girls swim team is about to get going on another season. They are led by Head Coach Kim Phillips who’s been at it for thirty four years – that’s love for the sport.
“We have roughly twenty seven swimmers this year. We practice every day. I’m predicting that we’ll have a good season this year,” Kim said.
I arrived at the Kroc Center in Salem, Oregon, at 2:55 p.m. where the swimmers (inside the aquatic center) were sitting up on the stands suited and ready to go. Most of them were hanging out socializing while they waited for practice to start.
What inspires some of these girls to be swimmers? Jewel Boyd is a junior at McNary – she started swimming when she was five years old. Her older sister swam for a team. Jewel would eventually go on to be part of a club swim team … the Bearcats. Her specialty is the freestyle.
“I followed my older sister’s footsteps – she inspired me. Swimming for Coach Phillips is an inspiration in itself – she’s really good. I enjoy the team aspect of it all. My goal is to swim in college and study foreign relations,” Jewel said.
Brittney Kiser is a sophomore and one of the best at the backstroke. Brittney’s story will be one of eight featured in my new book to be released sometime in December 2013, The Professor – Grayson Boucher, Plus More NW Sports Stories. Brittney was inspired by her mom. Tara Kiser introduced swimming to her daughter (when she was a child).
Samantha Williams is another sophomore who will help the girls’ swim team. She is great at the long distance swim – the 500 freestyle.
“It’s an inspiring sport in itself when you get in the pool. I enjoy the great exercise and the calmness of it all – it’s a fun sport,” Samantha said.
Abby McCoy is a freshman. She’s young but looking forward to great things in the future – she is motivated by her coaches’ instructions each day at practice.
“I enjoy swimming – it’s definitely a stress reliever. I get a chance to isolate myself from everything. Swimming makes me a stronger person while gaining more confidence,” Abby said.
Before the practice starts, the coach reminds the athletes to get their participation fee in. She also adds that the booster club will be helping pay for some of the swimsuits they purchase.
In my opinion, our priorities are not set right. There has to be a way for schools to provide fees and equipment for athletes. Can I get an Amen on this?
“The kids are great, I enjoy coaching them. We normally don’t have any problems. The only challenge we might have is getting everyone here. The school is about 5 miles away and the kids have to rely on their own transportation,” Kim said.
The team starts warming up with a tool called a kickboard. They hold on with two hands stretching their arms forward and fluttering the legs. Assistant Coach Erika Rose has been coaching at McNary for six years. She is a volunteer and enjoys helping the young swimmers. She mostly works with the beginners.
“We have our team do the kickboard for about fifteen minutes before starting a one-and- a-half hour training session. They stay in the pool the entire duration. Every swimmer has a type they do – some do several types. They get a one or two minute breather throughout, but they’re in the water the entire time. Sometimes we have them do a stroke workout or simply an endurance workout,” Erica said.
During the practices the Kroc Center has a police of mandatory lifeguards. Kelsey Lund and Sara Brending were keeping an eye on the swimmers that day.
“We have to keep a constant watch at all times, practices or swim meets. Basically, anytime we have people in the water, a lifeguard will be on duty,” Kelsey said.
Swimming definitely takes a different kind of “getting in shape”. It is a challenging sport and to acquire the technique for the many types of skills, takes dedication and hard work.
Let’s review the different types.
This is the most common known swim type. The competitor does a front crawl, circling arms forward, alternating arms, and kicking their feet (known as fluttering). This is the fastest of all types and used for long distance races as well as short distance.
This style is known as the “fly”. It is swum on the breast with both arms moving continuously, accompanied by a dolphin kick. It takes a tremendous amount of arm strength and leg strength.
This type is sometimes called the “back crawl” or the “upside-down freestyle”. Swum on the back, the advantage is breathing. The disadvantage is not being able to see where they are going. The competitor uses long-axis strokes. It is the only competition that has a different start – on the wall in the water.
This style is where the chest or torso does not rotate. The stability and ability to keep the head out of the water most of the time, is amazing. This is the most difficult stroke and requires a tremendous amount of leg strength and endurance compared to others.
In addition to individual events at swim meets, there is also an individual medley. This is where the swimmer does several types in one race. There are also relays, the medley relay and the freestyle relay. The races are all in yards for the winter season, which are mostly high school. In the summer the races are in meters.
If you’re not doing anything on Thursday December 12th, come to the Kroc Center in Salem, Oregon at 7:00 p.m. and watch a high school swim meet. The McNary girls and boys will be competing against Lebanon.
I would like to thank Brittney Kiser and Coach Kim Phillips for inviting me to one of their practices.
Thanks for the time you took to read this post.