Brand-new FAST swimmers make waves

Brand-new FAST swimmers make waves

Submitted by Amy Williams 

 The Fluvanna Aquatics Sports Team (FAST) kicked off the 2019 summer swim season with a tri-meet against the Elks and the Louisa Gators at Louisa’s aquatic facilities Wednesday (June 12) at 6 p.m. It was a rainy and cool night for a swim meet, but FAST swimmers, coaches and families warmed things up by donning aloha shirts and leis in support of the team’s Hawaiian theme. 

 As the first meet of the season, it was unscored, thus giving new swimmers and families a chance to experience how a meet operates and to prepare them for the remainder of the season. FAST’s returning coaching staff of Head Coach Nate Johnson and Assistant Coaches Anna Hurdle, Brennan King, Michael DiFazio and Emma DiFazio helped swimmers navigate their first night of competition and guided them to a successful finish of the fast-paced meet. 

Swimming in their first-ever swim meet, 6-year-old twin brothers Levi and Paxton Strickland each successfully completed the boys 6-andunder 25-yard backstroke and 25-yard freestyle events. Levi showed his strength with a second place finish in the freestyle, while Paxton clinched second in the backstroke. Johnson said that the boys only began learning to swim three weeks ago, and are such naturals in the pool that they have quickly moved out of lessons, onto the team and into winning form at the meet. “They had awesome first swims and I can’t wait to see what is to come for them, he added.  

Also competing for the first time was 6-yearold Ryan Birkhead, who has spent the last few years cheering from the pool deck for her older brother. Ryan made her meet debut with second place finishes in both the girls 6-andunder 25-yard backstroke and 25-yard freestyle. Johnson pointed out how calm, cool and level-headed she remained at the meet. He noted that first meets are often anxiety-inducing, particularly for younger swimmers, but said, “Ryan was ready to hop in and swim her hardest.”  

When asked if there was one swimmer who stood out for the night, Johnson quickly named 14-yearold Jackson Kinsella. According to Johnson, Jackson worked exceptionally hard over the winter swim season. “His hard work is paying dividends in the form of amazing swimming and dramatic transformation of his physique,” Johnson said. His 100-yard freestyle was amazing to watch.” Jackson swam the Boys 13-14 100-yard freestyle in an impressive 1:00:38, a 4.72 second drop since last summer. Jackson is also recognized by the other swimmers and parents for being kind and supportive of the entire team.  

Overall, Johnson expressed his satisfaction with how everyone swam. “All our swimmers, both new and returning, gave it their all and performed well,” Johnson said. First meets have a habit of being chaotic, but our swimmers did an excellent job of staying focused and performing their best. I look forward to a successful and fun season.”  

FAST hosted the Culpeper Country Club at Fairview Swim Club on Wednesday (June 19) and will  host the Elks at their pool Tuesday (June 25). 

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