JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Walk into the Skylark Aquatic Center, and it feels like a sauna - flat out muggy on a hot San Antonio summer day. Everyone inside is using the pool to keep cool, but not everyone is there to relax and kick back.
On the far right end of the pool, swimmers, ages 5-17, are swimming laps , starting with completing 100-meter freestyle, back and butterfly strokes. The workout intensifies with 12, 25-meter, sprints, in freestyle and using a kick board to isolate the legs.
After a 40-second cool-down period, the children hope that the training gets easier for the last 15 minutes but they know better. Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Youth Swim Team Coach Stephanie Soto has the children come out of the pool and do lunges from one point to the other followed by pushups. The team swims one final length back to their starting point and then hops back out to do planks for their final exercise.
Since May, the JBSA-Lackland Youth Swim Team has been training three days a week for city and state competitions.
The team recently represented Region 15 - City of San Antonio in the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Summer Games State Swim Meet in College Station, Texas July 31 through Aug. 3, by each swimmer individually placing in the top three of every event they competed in.
Even though none of Soto's students won in their respective categories, she is proud of them for making great strides throughout the season.
"It's a great accomplishment," she said. "Most of these kids are new, and I am more concerned with them dropping time and helping them reach their goals."
The children's goals for swimming vary.
Cassie and Chloe Resler, 12 and 10, respectively, both aim to compete in the Olympics one day.
The sisters love being competitive swimmers.
"Being on swim teams is fun. I like being part of a team," said Cassie Resler, who placed 28 out of 33 swimmers in the Girls 11-12-year-old 100-yard freestyle, 31 out of 37 swimmers in the 50-yard breaststroke, and 30 out of 35 swimmers in the 11-12-year-old, 100-yard instant medley race at the state swim meet.
"It's fun competing in swimming meets," said Chloe Resler who finished 32 out of 34 swimmers in the Girls 9-10, 50-yard freestyle, 37 out of 39 in the 25-yard backstroke and 34 out of 37 in the 25-yard breaststroke.
Their fellow teammate, Sinead Bolton, 17, said she will be attending Luther College in Iowa this fall, and would like to continue swimming at the collegiate level. Bolton feels her time on the swim team has prepared her for it.
"I would like to scrimmage for the school's team first, and as I progress, maybe I can participate in more competitive meets," explained Sinead, who placed 55 out of 65 swimmers in the Women's, 15-17-year-old, 50-yard butterfly and 77 out of 103 swimmers in the Women's, 15-17-year-old, 50-yard freestyle.
Her brother James Bolton, 15, is not sure what his goals are in the sport, but he said he enjoys the camaraderie of being on the swim team.
"It is healthy and fun being on the team," the 15-year-old explained.
Five-year-old Nathaniel Wilbanks, shares the same enthusiasm.
"Being on the swim team is awesome," he said.
Soto notices the spirit and dedication that her swimmers display. She noted that the children often show up 30 minutes early, eager and ready to practice.
Soto hopes their dedication to the sport pays off in the future.
"Who knows where they end up years from now?" said the swimming instructor. "I could see some of these kids in the Olympics, and it will be good seeing them. My goal is to get them into a sport that I know that they are going to like, and for them to continue being good at it. I would love to find out that these children broke world records."
For more information on the JBSA-Lackland Youth Swim Team, call 671-2413.