THE JEFFERSON Parks and Recreation Department “Sea Dragon” swim team has pushed through several freezing cold practices in early May, and is now ready to get the 2013 season under way.
The Sea Dragons will host a mock meet on Wednesday, June 5 before traveling to Winder on Saturday, June 8 for a North Georgia Swim League Pentathalon.
This summer, the swim team has seen a large increase in numbers. Sea Dragon coach Chad Klinck attributes the rise in attendance to the establishment of the Jefferson High School and middle school swim teams.
“Now that people know it’s a high school sport, they know there is a future in it,” Klinck said.
While the Sea Dragons typically have had 100 to 115 members per year, the 2013 team has registered approxiamtely 140 swimmers, including 20 high schoolers – up from only six last year.
“We have a really good team,” said Klinck. “Kids that really like (swimming) usually join year round clubs. We’ve got about 20-30 kids that swim on Athens or Gainesville clubs the rest of the year. We’ve got hardcore kids and good swimmers. And we’ve got a lot of kids that just do the summer leagues that have been here for five to seven years.”
While the team is largely made up of girls (approxiamately 70 percent), Klinck noted that the boys’ team population has substantially grown in the past year, especially at the middle school level.
“This year, the middle school team exploded,” said Klinck. “It’s a sport that’s accessible, right now, to the average athlete. There aren’t as many choices in the winter, which is when most school swimming is.”
The Sea Dragons participate in the GRPA (Georgia Recreation and Parks Association) league and the NGSL (North Georgia Swim League), which is made up of 19 teams in the northeast Georgia area.
The Sea Dragons have had a traditionally strong boys’ and girls’ team, and Klinck believes this year will prove no different. After finishing second in the NGSL last year and as high as third in the state GRPA meet, expectations are tall.
“I think our girls might win state this year, and our boys might be in the top five,” Klinck said. “We have one of the top summer league teams in the state. We are really proud.”