Louisa Gators going for goal
Benjamin Hiter practices the butterfly stroke before the Jefferson Swim League Championship. Submitted photo
The Louisa Gators are in position to achieve their season goal during the Jefferson Swim League Championship meet this weekend.
But for the Gators, winning isn’t the ultimate goal.
“Yes, it is a competition between other teams,” said Gator meet director Tina Schweikart, “but it’s not always about winning or losing. It’s about how you feel about yourself.”
Schweikart and Gator head coach Debra Bickley said the team’s focus is on improving the swimmers’ times.
The team set a goal of 500 time improvements throughout the season and with 104 swimmers competing in multiple events during the championship, their goal is well within reach.
“We’re really close,” Schweikart said, noting the team had more than 300 time improvements heading into the final meet.
In its fourth season, the Gators swim program continues to grow, while focusing on individual improvement, self-confidence, discipline and sportsmanship.
The team earned the swim league’s sportsmanship award last year.
“It was a great honor and we hope to get it again this year,” Schweikart said.
While swim meets are an individual and team competition, Schweikart said they are also fun for the entire family.
“Part of the fun for parents is being involved,” she said. “Especially when they’re walking beside their kid in that final lap.”
Swim meets are refereed and parents also help officiate the meets.
This year’s championship will be held at Fork Union Military Academy on Friday and Saturday.
Points are awarded for the top two swimmers from each team in the four competitive strokes–freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly–and the medley relay.
Schweikart said the use of touchpads with electronic scoreboards with swimmers’ names “feels like swimming in the olympics.”
“It’s pretty cool,” she said.
Bickley said the team is “a little nervous” because of the change in venue–the event is usually held at the University of Virginia–but said the team is prepared.
“It’s a new experience for us, but other than that, I think we’re good,” she said. “We’ve had a great year and we expect to have a good meet.”
Bickley said she is proud of the entire team and is looking forward to the team’s final pool party in mid-August.
The swim season begins in May and runs through the end of July. The Gators practice at the Louisa County Aquatic Facility at the Betty J. Queen Intergenerational Center, where they also host meets. For prospective swimmers, the Gators also have a prep team.
For more information about the Louisa Gators, visit www.louisagators.org or call (540) 967-4420.