The Sun News

Four Aquanauts advance to swimming nationals

WARNER ROBINS — Four local swimmers will compete in a national swimming event in Orlando, Fla., today, following a recent performance at the USA Swimming Sectionals in Nashville, Tenn.

Erik Hanson, Aaron Meece, Brett Niemantsverdriet and Declan Poorman represented the Warner Robins Aquanauts in the USA Swimming Sectionals March 4-7. Kaylie Hamborg, though she qualified, was unable to attend due to a death in the family.

The sectionals featured swimmers from across the Southeast and had about 150 swimmers in each event. Only the top 32 swam in the sectional finals. Niemantsverdriet swam in six final events and had a top finish of 13th.

Coach Wes Hamborg said he was pleased with the four swimmers’ efforts at the sectionals and said they all improved their times.

“We had some personal best times,” said Hamborg, who grew up swimming with the Aquanauts and started coaching in 2002. “It is the next level of competition, and the competition gets harder, so to improve your time and move up is quite an accomplishment.”

As a team, the four qualified to compete in the national meet in the 800 freestyle relay.

Niemantsverdriet qualified by time for three events — the 100-meter freestyle, 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle. Hanson qualified by time for two events — the 50 and the 100 butterfly.

With the exception of a few breaks during school holidays, the Aquanauts swim year-round. The winter season is winding down, but the summer season, which runs from April to August, is about to start.

Swimmers interested in joining the Aquanauts are encouraged to try out. The group also offers swim lessons.

“It is just a great sport,” Hamborg said. “Swimming is something you can do your whole life. There is not an age cap on it.”

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or