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Victoria swimmers have fun, eat treats at VISD Aquatics Center

By Julie Garcia
Oct. 31, 2013 at 5:31 a.m.

A small pool of light from the window shines on Victoria East senior Taylor Browning's face as he paddles an inner tube down the lane during Thursday's fun meet at the VISD Aquatics Center. The swimmers competed in two different relay races involving tubes during the noncompetitive meet.

Abigail Schneider, a senior at St. Joseph, and Lexi Mays, a junior at Victoria East, compete on different swim teams, but that doesn't keep them from cutting up out of the pool.

The two swimmers met during the Coastal Bend Swim League, a summer league that helps keep them in shape and offers a change of pace from the rigors of weekly competition.

Schneider and Mays were able to step away from the action Thursday at a fun meet between St. Joseph, Victoria East and Victoria West.

Before being served treats, the three swim teams "competed" in team-building activities like swimming taped together and seeing which team could fit a swimmer into a swim cap (which they accomplished).

Schneider, who also participates in theater at St. Joseph, has been competitively swimming since age 4.

"I always loved swimming," she said. "Now, I really love (swim team) and wouldn't trade it for anything."

East captain Mays only began competing two years ago as a freshman but said the team takes up most of her schedule.

Though the practices can run long and the teams swim in meets every weekend, there are incentives for the swimmers.

"If there's somebody we know who's just a little bit faster than the other person, we'll wage bets," Schneider said, laughing. "We say, 'If you win, we'll get a coffee from Starbucks' - we did that a lot this summer."

Though they're always encouraged to eat healthy by their coaches, Mays said there's a whoopie pie on the table if someone makes a personal record.

"If you bust your time, you get one whoopie pie for every time you beat," Mays said. "They switch it up, too. Sometimes it's cookies; sometimes it's chocolate-covered strawberries."

Ashley Wernke, the girls swim coach for East and West, said the goal of the fun meet is to keep the teams pumped up.

"It's a way to get them involved with their fellow teammates - it's a team-building situation," Wernke said. "It's not just always practice, practice, practice."

The meet serves as a way to let people know there is a pool in Victoria, she said.

Since the beginning of the season in mid-September, Wernke said her swimmers have progressed as individuals.

"As far as individual performance, right now, we're at a better spot this year than this time last year," she said. "I feel confident going into the rest of the season."

Even though Starbucks, whoopie pies or sometimes even Whataburger are perks, Mays and Schneider compete for other reasons.

"(Swimming has helped) with self-control and having patience with other swimmers on the team," Schneider said. "Also, actually persevering to reach my goals of better times."

What Mays learns in the pool, she brings into other areas of her life.

"Ever since I started swimming, every second counts," Mays said. "In swimming, you can lose by a millisecond."

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