With the temperatures staying in the mid- to upper 90s in Houston County, swimming is just one way local youths are staying cool as well as building strength, stamina and character.
The Warner Robins Aquanauts, originally started in 1958 as a summer recreation team by parents who wanted a local swim team for their chidren, has since evolved into a year-round competitive team, Aquanauts head coach Wesley Hamborg said. The team now has about 100 swimmers, ranging from age 4 to college age, who compete on all levels, from novice/beginner to state and national level competitions.
“I think that swimming helps to develop discipline and life skills that help these kids to go on and become great members of society ... and it’s a lot of fun,” said Hamborg, explaining that swimming teaches people “to be self-motivated and challenge yourself on a daily basis to be the best you can be.”
The team, Hamborg said, is broken into practice groups where the different levels are determined by practice ability and age. The platinum group consists of competitive high school swimmers and some college swimmers. The gold group consists mostly of intermediate high school level swimmers. The silver group consists primarily of beginner high school swimmers or advanced younger children. The bronze group is focused on developing strokes for younger kids, and the blue group is beginner swimmers, generally coming out of lesson programs. Swimmers can compete in butterfly, backstroke, freestyle and breast stroke, depending on age, and the distances vary for each event. In order to be placed in a group, swimmers must be able to swim a minimum of 25 yards of freestyle and backstroke. Monthly dues range from $50 to $65.
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“We definitely tell people we have something for everyone,” Hamborg said.
The Aquanauts, Hamborg said, participate in a variety of different meets, from hosting some at the home pool, Memorial Park Pool, 800 Armed Forces Blvd., to attending meets from as far away as North Carolina or Florida for a sectional meet, which is a step above a state meet.
“We try to keep them low key so the kids feel comfortable,” Hamborg said, referring to the meets hosted at the Memorial Park Pool. “We travel to about 20 meets a year and then host about six meets.”
Wendy Rankine, of Warner Robins, has two boys, William, 10, and Weston, 9, who are on a swim team. William, who has been swimming for two and a half years, is on the silver team, and Weston is on the bronze team.
“I grew up swimming ... it’s a good individual sport,” she said, explaining that her son, William has a visual impairment and is Braille reader. “It is something he (William) can compete in just like everyone else, and the impairment doesn’t matter.”
On the Aquanauts, Rankine said, kids are encouraged to be the best they can be.
The Aquanauts also offer year-round swim lessons as well as a masters swim program for adults who still want to compete in swimming, according to Hamborg. They also offer lifeguard classes, adult lap swimming and water aerobics. To find out more information about the Warner Robins Aquanauts, visit the web site at www.wraswim.com and contact the coaching staff through the email link, Hamborg said. Swim evaluations are done at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 800 Armed Forces Boulevard, Memorial Park Pool.