Swim team to splash back into old schedule

·2 min read

Jul. 23—The Tahlequah Stingrays swim team will start practicing later in the evening beginning Aug. 16, giving adult lap swimmers a freer reign on the lanes.

The team meets in the morning on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at the Northeastern State University Fitness Center, where they practice for two hours each day.

On Aug. 16, the team will resume meeting from 5:30-6:45 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. The time for practice is tentative, depending on NSU. Stingrays Coach Kevin Burns said if the pool is back open to the pre-COVID-19 schedule, the practices could last longer.

"We don't own the pool, so if NSU has it closed, then we can't have practice," said Burns.

Debbi Peterson's son, Clyde, 11, has been a part of the team for almost three years. She said he has always enjoyed being in the water, and he benefits from the exercise he gets at the practices.

Peterson said the importance of being on the team centers on learning how to be competitive, but also learning how to be a part of a team.

"Swimming is individual races, but overall, you are competing with your team, so it's a good thing for the individual morale, but for also knowing you are still a part of a team," said Peterson.

Daniel Valcarcel, aquatics manager, said he has seen the kids make friendships during practice, and improve their skills, for the past two years.

"I've seen a lot of them come in for their initial testing and they were able to get from end to end, but they weren't the strongest swimmers. Since then, a lot of students have grown into being able to do more laps than some of my lifeguards," said Valcarcel.

The practices allow kids to be competitive in a healthy way, while also creating grit to help face challenges later on, he said.

The swim team is not as time-consuming as other sports, and that's something Peterson said she likes about it, because it leaves Clyde open to explore other interests.

Burns said he never wants the swim team to take away from the kids' other activities, because he has several members who are involved in multiple sports.

He said sports, like cross country, can really pound on the body, but swimming can help alleviate that, making it a sport people can participate in throughout their lives.

The team also teaches the kids to respect the water, which is especially important, as the Tahlequah area is surrounded by rivers and lakes.

Check it out

The Tahlequah Stingrays do not currently have any swim competitions coming up. But kids who want to try out for the team should call and leave a message at 918-704-4960.