By Ryan Butler
Capping off another successful short-course season, six members of the Tampa Bay Aquatics (TBAY) swim program’s Brandon branch competed in the fastest 18-and-under amateur swim meet in history. Along with 15 other swimmers from TBAY’s seven other branches, the Tampa Bay-based group finished near the top of the pack among 220 teams competing at the 2013 National Club Swimming Association (NCSA) Junior Championships in Orlando, March 12 through 16.
Christin Rockway (Valrico), Blake McGovern (Fishawk), Wes McGovern (Fishhawk), Bailey Bowden (Plant City), DJ Waite (Bloomingdale) and Allison Greenwood (Lithia), members of the Brandon branch based out of River Hills, represented the area at the invitation-only championship event. It presented an opportunity for three first-timers at the event to compete against some of the world’s best as well as a final recruiting opportunity for seniors.
“They’re taking it all in and seeing what it takes to compete at the highest level and not just compete in it but make finals and win,” said Brandon head coach, Dave Gesacion. “They get their feet wet and get the ‘deer in the headlights’ out of the way when they’re young if they can make the times. You use it as fuel and ammunition when you get back to the pool because you see what it’s like and you see what these kids are doing.”
The championship meet was the conclusion to a lengthy short-course season. Beginning in August, club members ages 15 and over practiced nearly every morning before school for TBAY and nearly every afternoon after classes for their respective high school teams. When the high school season ended in November, athletes continued practicing regularly for their club team. Swimmers will now transition into the long course season, featuring practice and competition in lengthier Olympic-sized 50-meter pools.
The club’s U-14 swimmers also had a strong season, finishing third overall at the Florida Age Group Swimming (FLAGS) Championships earlier this month. Though the organization is highlighted by high-level competition accomplishments from its oldest members, the group also offers recreational swimming and even swimming lessons for beginners. Founded in 2003, the club now offers professional coaching at each of the organization’s eight independently-run branches.
“If they want to be ultra-competitive, we have that for them. If they just want to get into the sport, learn it and try out, we’re there as well,” Gesacion said.
For more information about TBAY, please visit tampabayaquatics.com.