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Swim Dolphins...Cool in the pool

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - With the program now happy and set in its new home, the swimming pool at Cooper Farms, the Dolphin Swim Team is enjoying renewed success in 2012.

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This is the second year that the local swim team has been competing at Cooper Farms, a subdivision in southern Jefferson County just over the Bullitt County line off Mount Washington Road. While a majority of the team members do hail from Bullitt County, the team is now just known as the Dolphins, having dropped the ‘Bullitt County’ part as a handful of team member now are from Cooper Farms.

Still, after all the upheaval during the transition from using the Bullitt County pools operated by the YMCA, the program shrank to just 68 swimmers a year ago. Now, second year head coach Kathy Abell and her board have pushed the roster to 85 swimmers with hopes for more in the future.

“We just want to grew each year,” Abell, who teaches at North Bullitt High School, said before the team’s final home meet on Monday of this week. “Some of the teams we compete against have 120 to 150 swimmers. We could do that but would need a second coach.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is that the Dolphins are still part of the Louisville Summer Fun League along with five other small swimming programs in the area. The Dolphins swam the other five teams this summer with home meets against both Oxmoor and Harmony Landing. The Fun League will conduct its season-ending championships this Saturday at the University of Louisville’s Ralph Wright Natatorium.

With the early ending of the school year in Bullitt County this year, the swim team members got a little time to relax between the end of school and the team’s first practice. Still, starting in early June, the Fun League season covers about six weeks.

The Dolphins practice five days a week except on days when they have meets. Abell conducts practice for the older swimmers from 8 to 9 a.m. and then during the next hour the nine to 12-year olds are in the water. From 10 to 11 a.m., the practices are for the swimmers under age 8.

Abell does not have an assistant coach, but many of her older swimmers stick around and help with the younger team members.

Abell said that about 80 percent of last year’s enrollment returned to the team this summer. They also brought a few new members with them through word or mouth and also newspaper ads. In addition, there was a push in the Cooper Farms community to get new members.

The Dolphins might have been able to add a few more swimmers if it had been known that it would be so hot this summer. During one recent meet, the coaches decided on 10-minute breaks each hour, not for the competitors to cool down, but for them to get out of the pool so that coaches and parents could get into the water.

Still, while jumping into the pool is still one of the best ways to cool off, slightly warmer water does slow down the swimmers.

“The last two weeks the water has been pretty warm,” Abell said. “That’s not ideal to swim. You don’t want it cold, but as the water gets warmer the times get a little slower. But, it didn’t stop us from swimming.”

The Dolphins and the Summer Fun League encompass a number of different swimming levels and interest. Some of the team members are more out just to have a little fun while others are looking more at the competitive aspect. Some Dolphins are already part of the local high school swimming programs while others swim with the Dolphins in the summer and then transfer that to other programs during the school year. Abell said she has directed some swimmers to the Cardinal Aquatic program at the University of Louisville as well as pointing some to a series of clinics conducted by St. Xavier’s swim program.

Abell was a competitive swimmer in southern Indiana growing up and she pushes her team members to get better, but she welcomes on interest levels.

“My goal is for them to improve every single meet over a season,” the coach said. “If our times improve, then we’re getting better.

“That said, I’ve been an athletic person my whole life,” Abell added. “It is exciting to win meets. But realistically some of these kids we have to teach them how to swim. If we can get them to learn three of the four strokes in a season then that is an accomplishment.”

On Saturday, the Summer Fun League Championships will be divided into two classes. The Dolphins will compete against Standard and Oxmoor, the two teams closest to them in size. The three larger programs in the group will have their own division.

“By the time we get to the championships, there is a level playing field,” Abell said. “Going into Saturday it is up in the air (the Dolphins winning a team title). It was very close between us and Oxmoor when we swam them here.”

The team membership this summer is pretty much evenly divided between boys and girls. Abell would like to have a few more boys in the nine to 12 year old age groups.

There are a number of siblings on the roster. With 85 swimmers, Abell says that there are 50 families in the group.

The swimming pool at Cooper Farms is just short of 25 yards. Most of the pools in the Summer Fun League at 25 meters in length. Races in the Summer Fun League range from 25 meters (yards) up to a 100-meter individual medley event. The group competes in swimming only. There is no diving involved in the Summer Fun League.

Members of the Dolphins Swim Team in 2012 include: Brandon Adkins, Sierra Adkins, Henry Borquez, Maila Bowman, Savannah Bowman, Josiah Bowman, Emily Brumley, Todd Brumley, Nellie Grace Cannon, Makenzie Childs, Nicholas Childs, Mark Abell Childs, Bailey Chitwood, Tanner Chitwood, Mikena Chitwood, McGwire Corley, Madeline Davis, Camille Davis, Grace Fluhr, Kaylee Fluhr, Dylan Franklin, Haley Franklin, Allison Glass, Christopher Glock.

Hunter Hardin, Cameron Harper, Christian Harper, Grace Harper, Trevor Hass, Kylie Hayden, Sydney Hill, Wesley Hill, Kelsey Hill, Haley Hodge, Jacob Hodge, Brixton Jacobs, Madison Johnson, Samantha Kenney, Savanah Leake, Logan Leake, Nathan Lee, Jackson Leigh, Bradley Mahaffey, Ryan May, Rachael May, Kadence Owen, Lindsey Miles, Sydney Shirley, Tyler Nauert, Trevor Nauert, Tessa Nauert, Turner Nauert.

Neal O’Bryan, Alana O’Bryan, Savannah Pierce, Madison Pierce, Brooklyn Pierce, Abigail Potts, Matt Rice, Chris Rice, Katie Schmidt, Emily Schmidt, Alex Schmidt, Kelly Schmidt, Callie Sparks, Clay Snead, Hunter Standifer, Max Stucky, Aspen Stucky, Caden Sumner, Lily Sumner, Sierra Tucker, Sam Tucker, Macy Waddle, Carson Waddle, Julia Watkins, Ariel Westwood, Brady Westwood, Brooke White, Sydney White, Megan Wilkerson and Trevor Wilkerson.