Two months after becoming an official affiliate of USA Swimming, the Maricopa Marlins got their first taste of higher-level competition.
The city’s swim team competed at the Yuma Polar Bear Plunge Jan. 23-25. It was the beginning of their USA meets.
“Our swimmers did a great job,” coach Kristin Gromling said. “Some of our swimmers placed first overall in their age group. They swam against upwards of 39 swimmers.”
The Marlins started as recreational team in April, but even then Gromling was preparing them for a step up. She and assistant Christina Weeks went through the rigorous process of becoming USA-certified. The swimmers started serious conditioning in October.
In November came the announcement they were an official USA Competitive Youth Swim Team. At the Yuma meet, they immediately saw the difference between rec league competition and USA level.
Gromling said there are specific swimming techniques required. In competition, there was an official on almost every lane. The swimmers learned about touch pads and how heats work.
“It was a huge learning experience,” she said.
The team’s next meet is Feb. 6-8 in Glendale.
“They have been working extremely hard practicing five days a week,” Gromling said. They are building stamina through a variety of strokes in the racing lanes at the Copper Sky pool.
The Marlins are about 30 swimmers strong and made up of three age division: 6-8, 9-11 and 12-18. The youngest swimmer is only 5, the oldest 17.
Gromling and Weeks would like to grow the team to about 100 swimmers.
A college and USA swimmer herself for 18 years, Gromling approached City Hall about forming a swim team just after the groundbreaking for the Copper Sky facility and its aquatics center.
The team’s success relies on commitment from the kids and their parents, she said.
“If the kids love it, their parents are glad they’re here and getting physically active,” Gromling said.
Each age division has monthly membership dues. Those are $42 for ages 6-8, $54 for ages 9-11 and $67 for ages 12-18. There is also an annual $64 affiliation fee to compete at USA meets.
Swimmers who want to try out for the Maricopa Marlins can contact the coaches at email@example.com.
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