School is out for the summer, but the Laurel Hill Titans and Lorton Station Seahawks are ready to dive into swim season; both have growing teams and hope to see improvements in skill, time and wins this summer.
Kathleen Winston, swim coach for 16 years, coaches the Laurel Hill Titans, a Division 14 team of the Northern Virginia Swim League. Winston expects her team will improve from their last place standing in Division 13 for 2010.
“I think our skill level has gotten better every year,” Winston said. “I think we’ll do well. We have a few new kids, and a lot of kids have shown improvement throughout the winter through swimming and doing what they need to do.”
The team consists of swimmers age 5-18. Swimmers compete against their own age groups. For the younger groups, swim team is about learning the basic four strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. For the older swimmers it is about improving individual times.
“Most of the team is about time improvement. We’re really big on that here,” said Winston, who also has high hopes for her most competitive swimmers.
One of them is Nathan Dizon, 17. Dizon also swims competitively for South County High School. His best time is 27 seconds in freestyle.
“I think we’ll do really well,” said Dizon. “We went down a division, so I’m hoping for good stuff to happen this year.”
Teammate, and junior coach Erik Elem, agreed.
“I hope we will be 5-0, but in reality it might be 4-1,” Elem said.
Besides swimming, Elem said he enjoys coaching for the Little Titans.
“I love coaching. I like watching the kids in the beginning of the season not being able to swim one full lap and then being about to swim four full laps without stopping,” said Elem, who recognizes it is more about camaraderie than competition.
“Every Friday before a meet we have a pep rally barbeque. At the end of the season, a we celebrate everyone’s accomplishments throughout the season,” Elem said.
Junior coach Kathleen “Kat” Umayan, 18, also likes that the Titans are a close-knit group.
“I feel like, because I know all the coaches personally, the bond is stronger, and it’s more of a family then a team. We hang out together,” said Umayan.
The Laurel Hill Titans will have their first A meet against Burke Station on June 25 at 9:00 a.m at Laurel Hill.
The Lorton Station Seahawks are also expecting a season of progress.
The Seahawks are an anomaly for a swim team. Because of the Lorton Station’s Home Owner Association concerns over liability issues, the Seahawks are not officially recognized by any division of the Northern Virginia Swim League, yet they compete in Division 16 B meets and large invitationals.
Whereas A meets are for the fastest swimmers, B meets are more informal, allowing everyone a chance to swim.
As a Master Swimmer, who competes in the area, coach Drew Killian has been able to get his Seahawks entrance into larger meets.
Killian has also been adamant about growing his team.
“We can grow to 80 swimmers,” Killian said. “Because we have so many young swimmers, our main thing is to focus on the technique.”
Killian is proud of the progress his swimmers have made. “We have swimmers who started with us make their high school swim teams. That’s a good thing to see.”
Rebecca Ly, 10, of the Seahawks has been swimming competitively with the Seahawks for three years.
“My favorite is the breaststroke. When I first learned to swim, I didn’t want to get my face wet, so my dad taught it to me,” said Ly.
Killian believes in the positive aspects of his program, providing children with an opportunity for physical fitness, confidence building, skill building and a chance to socialize with their peers over the summer.