Last weekend, the Wellington Aquatics Complex hosted the Wellington End of Summer Invitational, where swimmers showed up and pushed through their best racing times while enjoying the friendly atmosphere.
Competitive swimmers train in the water to build a physique that is strong but pliable to skim through the liquid, beating their best time or racing to the finish against their fiercest competitors, who are often friends.
Bailey Folds, 10, has been competing for six years. She swims with the East Coast Aquatics Club. On Sunday, she was competing in the 50-yard breaststroke and the 50-yard backstroke. “I like swimming because it’s fun, and it’s a way to get out my energy,” Folds said.
Adrianna Guzzo, 8, was there competing in the 50-yard backstroke. “Swimming is just fun! I love to do all of the strokes,” Guzzo said. “My best is the breaststroke.”
The coaches have prepared the swimmers to perform in the water, but it is up to each swimmer to warm-up and cool-down properly. Learning these skills can keep the swimmer from cramping.
Folds explained that the heart rate needs to go up before the competition because warming up the body can be critical to performance.
“Before you swim, you need to get your heart rate up,” the young swimmer explained. “You swim at a moderate speed level, because if you go too slow you will be too calm, and if you go too fast you will get too tired.”
After her swim, she’ll stay in the water for a while. “The warming down doesn’t have to be a stroke; it can be jumping or hopping in the water,” Folds said. “This is to get your heart rate down, to calm down so you don’t get cramps.”
The swimmers learn these techniques in practice. Many swimmers practice two hours a day, six days a week with other swimmers in their club. Some swimmers practice in the mornings before school and in the afternoons after school.
Bella Guzzo, 11, has been swimming since she was two. She competed in the 50-yard backstroke, the 50-yard breaststroke, the 100-yard butterfly and the girls 11-12 100-yard individual medley (IM) last Sunday. She beat her own best time by four seconds in the IM.
“I love swimming because it’s so enjoyable,” she said. “You have fun with your friends and compete against other swimmers you don’t know.”
Marley Rubin likes swimming because her team feels like family.
“What I like about swimming is that you almost have a whole new family of friends,” Rubin said. “I like the competitiveness as well. You have someone you want to beat while you are racing. I like this competitive goal setting.”
Hannah Miller competes with the Wellington Wahoos. “This is like a second family,” Miller said. “We get to be in the water, 24/7. I like the competitiveness of it and just everything about it.”
Emily Eaton loves swimming and feels it’s a positive family sport. “I love how everyone here is like your sister or brother,” she explained.
Alera Hurwitz has been swimming all of her life. She enjoys setting her competition goals. “I love just being competitive against other swimmers,” Hurwitz said. “I love winning and achieving my goals.”
Makena Rubin, a Wellington Wahoo competitor, also loves her swimming family. “I just love having a second family,” Rubin said. “Anything I need help with, I can go to them. Everyone is always there for me.”
Noor El Tohamy likes swimming and being in the water. “When you swim, it’s refreshing, but at the same time you use all of your muscles and your energy,” El Tohamy said. “It’s a good competitive sport to be in, but it’s like a family.”
Rebecca Roldan also competes with the Wellington Wahoos. “I like how we have a bunch of friends and have a warming place to come,” Roldan said. “It helps with your mental health, outside of school. It really trains your body. I like having another family to come home to every day.”
Anastasiya Kappes said swimming builds her character. “I love swimming because it fits me,” Kappes said. “You meet new people. Swimming is part of my personality, my zodiac.”
David Katz, a meet referee for USA Swimming, was on hand to officiate. He oversees all of the officials and makes sure the meet is run according to the set standards.
“This is a local swimming competition in accordance with the local swimming committee,” Katz explained. “The local swimming committee is the Florida Gold Coast, under the auspices of USA Swimming. The kids swim in competition at certain distances and different strokes They compete against each other, but they also compete against themselves to improve their times.”
It takes many volunteers to put on a successful swimming competition.
“We all do this as a labor of love,” Katz said. “All of the officials are volunteers.”
To learn more about the Wellington Wahoos swim team, visit www.wellingtonswimming.com.