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NorCal Swim League meet draws 1,200 competitors

By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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The Roseville Aquatics Complex was like a swimming rock concert Saturday.

Coaches, fans and teammates screamed at the top of their lungs with adrenaline rushing all over the pool area. But that’s to be expected with the largest recreational swim meet in Northern California.

The 2011 Northern California Swim League Championships featured five teams and 1,200 swimmers under the age of 18. Unlike a year-round program that is popular among talented youth swimmers, the recreational leagues give kids a chance to swim from April through the summer and still compete in multiple sports.

“Some parents do not want to put their children into a year-round program too early,” said Steffi Jones, the director of the event. “They want them exposed to other sports. That is the philosophy of the majority of the recreational parents, which is what we have here.”

Two of the five local teams at the event were the Woodcreek Seawolves and the Johnson Ranch Barracudas.

“Seeing this get started is my favorite part,” Jones said. “The planning and seeing the kids having fun, the cheering, the coaches being excited. Just putting this together and having a good time is great.”

Planning was necessary for an event of this size. The complex and Woodcreek High School parking lots were filled. Dozens of tents were stationed outside the center and inside by the pool to accommodate the depth of swimmers.

“It’s awesome for the kids to swim,” said T.J. Kay, co-director of the event and a coach with the Seawolves. “They have all worked really hard. We are running a meet, and the kids are in the water, they’re moving, having fun. But we’re all running around like nuts. It’s like a duck, calm on the surface, and peddling underneath.”

The meet opens opportunities for swimmers to decide if they want to pursue swimming frequently or venture off into other sports. One famous graduate of the program is former Barracuda Sophie Weber, who will compete in the 2012 Olympic Trials next June in Omaha.

“Our whole thing is allowing kids to be the best they can by teaching them a lot of techniques,” said Larry Challis, a coach for the Barracudas. “Performance comes as a result of lots of technique and practice. We always teach the kids that the race is in their lane.”

There are 27 teams in the Sacramento area that belong to the NorCal Swim League. The five teams that competed Saturday belong to the Comstock Conference. Two other meets were held last weekend for the remaining teams.