The sights around a summer swimming pool can be chaotic with a number of people moving around.
Yet at any given time, the older swimmers can be found bumping shoulders with younger ones, teaching them to love the sport.
Those same swimmers will be in force Thursday as 56 swimmers from two Victoria teams will be traveling to Corpus Christi for the TAAF Summer Games State Meet.
“I hope they have a good experience,” said Gulf Coast Vortex coach Linda Brown. “I hope they don’t remember the heat, I hope they don’t remember COVID rules. I hope they remember all their parents being there and their teammates cheering for them and the fact that maybe they’re scared to get up on the block and do a big meet, but having done it they feel a great sense of accomplishment and a great sense of pride.”
This is the first year that Victoria SwimSmart Tsunami (for ages 12 and under) and Colony Creek Marlins (for ages 12 and over) combined to form Gulf Coast Vortex for TAAF regional and state competition.
The joining of the two teams has brought mentors to the younger swimmers who now get to look up to the older swimmers and learn to enjoy the sport even more.
“It’s been really good, especially after last year not being able to compete at all,” said Victoria Stawik. “My team consists of mostly older kids, 12 and over. So it’s been fun to have little guys on our team and they’ve been cheering for each other.”
The Vortex is sending 17 swimmers to the state meet. While the Victoria Wahoos at the VISD Aquatics Center is sending 39 swimmers of all ages.
For coach Debi Mease, who has been coaching the Wahoos for 20 years, this season’s been a welcome change of pace after last year’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“This year’s so much better,” Mease said. “Last year we still were in the water, but we didn’t have any meets. So I tried to make it on Fridays for them to have their own kind of relays and things like that. This year’s been great because they’re back to where they used to be. They get to compete, they get to be in the summer sessions, it’s great.”
The teams have welcomed swimmers from Victoria, as well as Cuero, Yoakum, Ganado, Port Lavaca and the surrounding area.
The hope for the swim leagues is to prepare the younger swimmers for when they start swimming in high school, but it also gives a chance to improve conditioning for other sports.
Everything from basketball to dancing were a few of the activities mentioned by the swimmers on the team.
The state meet continues through Sunday. COVID-19 restrictions will prevent TAAF from holding an opening ceremony, but the swimmers are excited for the opportunity.
“The very first time that they go to the big state meet is kind of overwhelming, but then they know what to look forward to the next year and it’s always their goal to get to that state meet,” Brown said. “That’s a long-term goal. Our short-term goal is to just swim faster than the meet before.”