Short season, long effort for local swim team

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Dolphins of the Louisville Summer Fun League

By Mike Farner

 HILLVIEW – In Kentucky, the summer swim season is never long enough.


However, this summer, with the end of the school year pushed back into second week of June, the summer swim season for the Dolphins Swim Team was really short in 2014. Veteran team coach Kathy Abell had her swimmers for only five total weeks this summer compared to as many as eight or nine weeks in the past.

In fact, the season is actually over for the Dolphins now. The program, which swims at the Cooper Farms Pool just north of the Bullitt County line in southern Jefferson County, hosted swim meets on July 3 and 10 and this past weekend competed in the Louisville Fun League Championships at the Ralph Wright Natatorium on the campus of the University of Louisville.

The team does have its banquet this week, but the actual competitive swimming season is complete.

Not only was it a short season, but it was also a relatively cool one.

At the team’s meet on July 3, the lifeguard was wearing a sweatshirt and the announcer was making jokes about building a bonfire and selling hot chocolate in the concession area.

Despite the short season and the cool weather, it has been a strong season for the program. There were reduce prices this summer because of the short season and that translated into an increase in the overall team roster. Abell reported that at one time the number of swimmers was as high as 92 and at the end the number of team members was at 86.

“I thought we would lose kids with the short season,” Abell said near the end of a practice session for the July 10 swim meet against Oxmoor. “We lost a few, but we are still growing.

“The only age group we are struggling in is the 11-12 boys,” Abell noted. “The others are pretty evened out. That makes us pretty competitive with the teams in our division. That’s good.”

The short season did alter the coaching that Abell could do.

“With the older kids we could tweak their strokes a little,” the coach said. “Any work they get you can work with them to get better.”

This was Abell’s fourth season with the Dolphins. During the school year, Abell is a teacher at North Bullitt High School, and this past school year she took over as the overall swim team coach in Bullitt County, a position which encompasses all three high school programs.

Because of that, Abell turned over some of the coaching, at least with the older kids with the Dolphins, to assistant coach Zach Grider, during the state mandated ‘dead period’ for high school coaches to work with athletes. That period ran from June 25 to July 9.

This was the first year in which Abell had a paid assistant coach.

The Dolphins also rely heavily on ‘unpaid’ assistant coaches. Those are the older swimmers who stay after their early morning workouts and help coach the younger swimmers who practice later in the mornings.

“I couldn’t run this team without them,” Abell said of her teenage assistant coaches.  

The summer season is not mega-competitive, even with weekly meets. Abell has to compete with Vacation Bible Schools and baseball and softball games for her kids’ attention. The biggest goal is just to get kids to swim faster in July than they did in June when the season started.

“For the older kids it is important to them,” Abell said of being competitive. “The younger kids don’t understand it. Most of the kids have had races this year where they have won. They aren’t the last kids out of the pool.”

The Dolphins won one of their first three meets this summer and lost another by only 17 points, which is not very many in a swimming meet. In the Louisville Summer Fun League, the Dolphins swim against Shelbyville, Oxmoor, Perssimon Ridge and Hillcrest.

The Dolphins’ program started over 20 years ago as the Bullitt County Dolphins and swam first in Shepherdsville and later at the pool in Maryville. A disagreement with those running the Bullitt County pools a number of years ago forced the program to Cooper Farms. The ‘Bullitt County’ was dropped from the name, but still, about half the team members are from Bullitt County.

Members of the 2014 Dolphins Swim Team are:

Sierra Adkins, Elizabeth Ashcraft, Lexus Atkinson, Austin Atkinson, Emily Brumley, Todd Brumley, Chase Budd, Daniel Caldwell, Blake Caudill, Chase Caudill, Makenzie Childs, Nicholas Childs, Bailey Chitwood, Tanner Chitwood, Mikena Chitwood, McGwire Corley, Haley Cox, Madeline Davis, Camille Davis, Cassie Davis, Raegan DeMuesy, Camryn DeMuesy, Caden Dobbins, Grace Fluhr, Ava Groves, Claire Groves

Cain Hadley, Isabel Hart, Claire Hart, Sophia Hart, Abby Hibbard, Sydney Hill, Wesley Hill, Haley Hodge, Jacob Hodge, Brixton Jacobs, Jarred James, Dakota James, Samantha Kenney, Alexis LeGrand, Isaac Lewis, Bradley Mahaffey, Ashley Moats, Emily Moats, Tyler Nauert, Trevor Nauert, Tessa Nauert, Turner Nauert, Savannah Pierce Madison Pierce, Brooklyn Pierce, Ashton Pierce, Abigail Potts, Emily Prasch, Zachary Rhoads, Aliyah Long, Chris Rice, Matt Rice, Tatum St. Clair, Josie Scannell, Emily Schmidt, Alex Schmidt, Kelly Schmidt, Lelia Schmidt, Alex Skidmore, Isabella Slayton, Clay Snead, Landen Snellen, Callie Sparks.

Trinity Taylor, Charity Taylor, Noah Taylor, Serenity Taylor, Caleb Terry, Jackson Terry, Sierra Tucker, Sam Tucker, Macy Waddle, Austin Walker, Emma Walker, Ava Walker, Sydney White, Megan Wilkerson, Trevor Wilkerson, Caroline Wilson, Kaylee Wilson and Nygelle Williams.