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Sign up now for the swim club

The Pagosa Lakes Swim Club is looking for youngsters who enjoy swimming and who like to compete.

Started in 1988, when swimming meant splashing around in Cotton Hole (ask an oldtimer if you don’t know), the club has developed into one of the strongest competitive swim clubs on the Western Slope of Colorado.

The swim club carries a roster of athletes ranging in age from 8 to 18. The team is small, but each child on the team has improved beyond expectations. That every swimmer worked hard was evident in individual times that kept improving as the swim season progressed each year.

The club’s efforts in developing young swimmers has also paid dividends these past several summers. While there have always been a couple of outstanding swimmers in the program, in past years the club has not been able to field swimmers in every age group. These last three summers, each age group was represented by swimmers from Pagosa Lakes Swim Club.

In fact, a number of the swimmers from the club have gone on to swim on a high school team (and in this case, for Durango High School as one is not available here in Pagosa Springs). Of that number, half want to compete at the collegiate level.

Although some swimmers have been in the water several times a week since February, the whole team will begin official training in April, with competitions lined up for June through early August. Swim practices, during the school year, will be held after school in the pool at the recreation center. Once school is out for the summer, all practices will take place at 7:30 a.m.

If you are interested in enrolling your child on the swim team, the following are some requirements. New swimmers are expected to have the ability to swim 25 yards freestyle and 25 yards backstroke without stopping. If your child is unable to do so, private swim lessons should be arranged beforehand.

Every swimmer is required to have a current Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center membership, U.S. Swimming Association registration, and pay a monthly team fee. USSA registration is required for insurance purposes.

Swimmers are also required to purchase their own team suits. Mandatory participation in the team’s fund-raising events is expected. While the recreation center subsidizes a part of the coaching costs, the money from the fund-raising events covers traveling expenses for the team coach and any additional training equipment.

When competition gets going, during the summer months, registration fees at meets run about $2-$3 per event entered. Parents should add to that the cost of travel and lodging. At most swim meets in the summer, camping areas are available and lodging costs can be kept to a minimum by camping.

The continued success of this swim program, as it begins its 24th year, will depend on the hard work of the swimmers, the support of the parents, and the quality of training provided by Coach Heather Hemphill.

Interested parents and swimmers can contact Coach Hemphill through the recreation center at 731-2051 with their questions. Although this is clearly a major commitment, the rewards justify the efforts. Competitive swimming is a marvelous sport; it encourages self-discipline and builds self-confidence.

Coach Hemphill, a graduate of Colorado State University, is a teacher at our local high school. She has an extensive coaching background that included Team Vortex in Fort Collins, Woodbourne Waves in Littleton, University of Denver’s Hilltoppers, and Evergreen Hurricane.

Coach Hemphill’s approach to coaching is to focus on the fundamentals.

Additionally, she said, “I not only want to develop good swimmers, but I want to develop well rounded children and young adults who have respect for themselves and for each other. I also teach my swimmers that nothing comes easy and the effort they put into their practices will show in their meets.”

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