Sharks take on Glenmore

Contributed by Jessica Haase Ketola

It was a hot, humid evening as the Sharks circled the tank, warm-ups delayed by thunder, the racers sharpened their teeth and sunned their fins in anticipation of the meet ahead. Wednesday, July 7th, just shy of 6:30 p.m. the Lake Monticello Swim Team (LMST) Sharks competed in a home meet against the Glenmore Country Club Tornadoes. Due to COVID-19, this season there have been some adjustments to protocol for safety to get these avid swimmers back in the water after missing the 2020 swim season.

The meets have been divided between the younger and older swimmers to reduce the number of people gathering. On this evening, it was the younger group, ages 10 and under, competing in their second meet of the season. Families from both teams gathered poolside, spilling out into the lawn surrounding the Ashlawn Clubhouse. Children were running in all directions, dripping in sticky melting popsicles, and erupting in shrieks of joy that only summer freedom can elicit. Parents were sitting together under umbrellas, in chairs, on blankets, or standing with grins on their faces, bravely battling the heat in excitement and support of the young swimmers. Clearly, this is a community of families who show up for one another and know how to enjoy their children’s successes.

Head coaches Maria Arroyo and Stephanie Nardone, as well as their entire team of junior coaches, pour love and support into the LMST swimmers with kindness, clarity, and calm guidance. Despite the chaos of the crowd, the coaches created order, pulling together all the efforts of the season into a smooth-running meet in which each child shined triumphantly in their progress. The coaches emphasize individual growth and progress over competition, creating an environment in which every swimmer is a winner, pushing his or her own goals to improve each time. In addition to the coaches, dozens of parent volunteers work together to make these meets run efficiently. Some of these parents were once the swimmers competing themselves, now cheering on the next generation, creating a living tradition, and passing on the love of the sport.

Though there are changes to the way the meets are operating this year, this tradition and the LMST Sharks family are clearly growing, learning, and winning in matters of the heart as well as the sport, bringing in several first place wins during the July 7th meet.

In the girls 9-10 200 SC Meter Medley Relay, LMST took first place with a stellar team of: Teagan Brown, Vienna Barresi, Ariella Miller, and Elliot Gehling. LMST Shark, Norbu Barnett was first place in two events, the Boys 8 & Under 25 SC meter freestyle as well as the Boys 8 & Under 25 SC meter backstroke. Rounding out the wins, Stella Strickland was first place in the Girls 6 & Under 25 SC meter backstroke. However, it is not just our first-place swimmers who deserve accolades, each team member brought comradery, good sportsmanship, and heart to this meet. There were so many levels of swimmers in the pool that night, each showing up and putting their best effort forward. Huge courage in these young swimmers, standing before a crowd, diving head-first into the challenge, giving their all to the race, and enjoying the love and support (as well as loud cheers) from the entire LMST family.

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