Thousands of swimmers to compete in Fork Union

The League’s championship meet is usually held at the University of Virginia, but repairs to the facility meant they had to find another venue, said Jan Balmer, JSL’s Champs consultant.

When Balmer found out in January she needed to find another pool, she looked everywhere.

The venue needed to be accessible, inside, within an hour’s drive and have adequate parking. FUMA fit the bill, she said.

Even though VanSlooten has only been at FUMA one year, he was happy to put on the meet.

“I’ve never been one to ease into anything,” he said. “I jump in with both feet. I was excited to do it. It’s a great opportunity.”

This is the first event of this size VanSlooten has been responsible for, but he helped run several while coaching in San Antonio.

He called colleagues there for insights on how to stage such a large meet.

VanSlooten said he’s had a lot of help from FUMA and JSL staff.

“It’s great to learn,” he said. “You can’t be afraid of learning. We’ll be busy and yes, I am nervous. But I’m ready to go.”

Because FUMA’s pool has only eight lanes as opposed to UVa.’s 10, they’ve had to add one more session.

Heats will run all day both Friday and Saturday.

“That way no one has to drive home in the dark,” Balmer said.

There are 17 teams in the JSL from all around Central Virginia. Many are in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, but other come from Fluvanna, Greene and Louisa counties.

Much goes into planning the event. Each team will rent a commercial tent for swimmers to cool off and rest in, Balmer said.

The FUMA staff will provide concessions. Both VanSlooten and Balmer contacted area restaurants and stores along the route into Fork Union and in the town to prepare them for the event.

“We’ve been working with businesses en route to the pool, giving them special opportunities to advertise,” Balmer said. “We really tried hard to make sure to look at businesses on the way to let them know there will be a big influx of families.”
There could be as many as 4,000 attending, Balmer said.

Owners of the Cadet Diner in Fork Union are excited about the event. FUMA students and faculty already know The Cadet Diner is the place to go for home-cooked meals on the cheap. It’s the place where four people can eat for $25, and co-owner Jennifer Hawk said the football team are regulars who take advantage of that price. She hopes hundreds more find out about the good food at a great price when the JSL swim championships come to town.

She and her co-owner, Jessica Williams, are stocking up on supplies to feed the influx of coaches, swimmers and family members. They are adding outside seating and are baking plenty of their popular pecan-chocolate-chip pie, brownies, cookies and cakes.

“We’ll be here ready to take care of everybody’s wants and needs,” Hawk said.

The town and academy keep the place busy with regular business, but Hawk is ready for the influx come Friday and Saturday. Every worker she has will be on duty.

“We’re bringing in all the extras we have,” she said.

Hawk said the diner will open early to accomodate the coaches and staff.

One exciting aspect of having the meet at FUMA, Balmer said, is FUMA’s pool is a meter pool. The UVa. pool’s distances are in yards.

That means that every first place at the meet will hold a permanent meter record.

“That’s a really big deal,” Balmer said. “Each first place will get special recognition for meters’ records – a whole new set of records that have never been in JSL existence.”

For more information, go to the Jefferson Swim League website:

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