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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Local swimmers help restart Geneseo swim team

  • Swimmers are jumping back into the pool at the Geneseo Community Center with the return of a Geneseo swim team.
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  • Swimmers are jumping back into the pool at the Geneseo Community Center with the return of a Geneseo swim team.
    Headed by coach Marifaith Mueller and assistant coach Steve Alexander, the Geneseo Gators Swim Team is starting to take form.
    “We have 28 swimmers, and honestly, I didn’t know how it would be received,” said Mueller, a former competitive swimmer. “We have swimmers ages 6 to 15 and of all abilities, but the team is open for ages 5 to 21.”
    Mueller, whose husband is the pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church in Geneseo, came to town in June 2012 and looked to see if there was a swim team or an adult master team she could swim with.
    Mueller has been a competitive swimmer since the age of 6 and is a Level 2 USA Certified Swim Coach.
    “In the fall, I was swimming with someone in the lap swim lane (at the community center), we got to talking and they mentioned there was talk about starting a swim program, but just didn’t have anyone with experience to head it up,” said Mueller. “I walked myself into Jackie Beach’s office and told her if they were interested in starting a program to give me a call.”
    The Pre-Competitive Swim Program began in January 2013.
    “We didn’t want to dive right into a team because we wanted to see the where the interest was,” said Mueller. “When we had tryouts we had 34 swimmers in the pool, it was jaw dropping.”
    The pre-competitive level is the first and basic level, which requires swimmers to swim a 25-yard freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. Participation in swim meets is not required.
    “The majority of the swimmers are beyond that level, but we didn’t want to scare them into competition,” said Mueller. “It is a way to introduce the program to the community.”
    The blue level is for swimmers who can demonstrate a 50-yard freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, and have knowledge of the butterfly. Swimmers also will learn proper turns and starts.
    There also are additional levels for the swimmers to progress to and attain.
    With such a large interest, the Geneseo Park District and swim coaches decided to move forward with the swim team, and in August the Gators will be an USA swim team.
    “We have 28 kids, which includes 21 families, and 95 percent of them have expressed interest in being competitive,” said Mueller, who will be Level 3 certified by August. “I’ve had parents tell me how excited they are to do this.”
    The Gators’ season will be a fall/winter season running September to March also with a possible spring and summer season. Mueller plans to have the team compete every six weeks and will start with local meets in the Quad Cities.
    Page 2 of 2 - Due to the large number of swimmers, the program has been divided into two groups according to age with groups practicing from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the outdoor pool this summer, which allows the coaches to give the swimmers more individualized attention.
    For the swimmers it is not all about being in the pool, Mueller has introduced them to dry land training, where the swimmers run through a circuit workout with body weight exercises such as sit ups, push ups, lunges and also a jog.
    “I am really surprised and impressed at their commitment and how quickly they have improved,” said Mueller. “Their dedication and how hard they work is incredible. I am giving them a lot of new things they are not use to, like dry land workouts, and they have shown me the utmost respect. I also continue to learn from them and educate myself to be a better coach for them.” 
    After the dry land work, the swimmers jump in the pool for a warm up and then work on kicking, drill work, swim interval sets, starts, turns and sprinting.
    “Technique is the most important thing at this level, along with their endurance,” said Mueller. “A lot of technique and instruction goes with their abilities and we have a wide-range of abilities.”
    Events are determined by age group and will range from 50 to 200 yards in all the strokes, as well as the 100 individual medley (IM), 200 IM and the 400 IM and relays.
    Mueller said she really wants the swimmers to develop of love and passion for the sport because it is one of those lifelong sports.
    “I want to be able to instill a love for the sport and teach them what commitment means and to have fun with that commitment,” she said. “For me, swimming is a sport that makes you who you are, and I see these kids getting that self confidence.”
    The Gators’ Swim Team will hold tryouts before the season begins. For more information, call the Geneseo Park District at 944-5695.

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