Swimmers between 4-years-old and 17-years-old filled the Joseph W. Arbisi Memorial Pool at the Sedalia Middle School Tuesday evening.
There were a range of skill levels and some different reasons for how each kid started swimming competitively.
Arly Ponce, a 10-year-old Sedalia Bandits swimmer, said she started swimming when she was 8-years-old because of the movie Surf’s Up. The 2007 animated film tells a story about surfing penguins.
“I wanted to try and see how fun it was and I saw movies like this,” Ponce said.
During Tuesday’s meet, Ponce competed in the 100-yard freestyle, 25-yard freestyle, 25-yard butterfly, 25-yard breaststroke and 100-yard medley relay.
“I like competing against people,” Ponce said.
Bandits coach Jerry Tankersley said Ponce is one of the best young swimmers on the team this summer. He also said 7-year-old Camille Schear stands out.
“They are in my younger group, but they are really good,” Tankersley said. “They’ve been doing a lot of year-round swimming.”
Tankersley said there are about 75 kids on the Bandits this year and about 55 of them competed in Tuesday’s meet that included teams from Eldon, Jefferson City and Boonville.
“There’s a wide range of skill levels,” he said. “I’ve got kids that we are looking at more of a conditioning aspect and trying to get faster. I’ve got kids that are just really learning to swim.”
Tuesday’s meet featured younger swimmers finding any way to get across the pool, but also high school swimmers working to reach personal best times.
“The ones that are conditioning, we try to do a lot of interval work and big sets,” Tankersley said. “The ones that are learning we do all kinds of swim lesson drills, bobs, things like that.”
Parents cheered on many of the young swimmers during the meet, and Tankersley even offered up encouragement over the PA system.
Tankersley said the younger group practices for about 45 minutes four times a week.
“I’ve got some that are working on conditioning, but most of them are working on stroke skills,” he said. “Learning to swim properly. I’ve got some younger kids that are really solid, though.”
The team travels to area cities including Eldon, California, Jefferson City, Centralia, Fulton, Mexico and Booneville.
Jeremy Acosta, a 12-year-old swimmer from Sedalia Middle School, competes with the Bandits, but also travels to other area meets.
He said he’s been swimming since he was 4-years-old.
“I got into it because I like racing and I like being in the water,” he said.
Bandits swimmers like Acosta and Ponce will be traveling with the team until the season comes to a close at a meet on July 12 at Centralia.