Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Club Keeps Swimmers in Pool; Athletes Improve Times during Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Club Keeps Swimmers in Pool; Athletes Improve Times during Year

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Kindland, Clay County Line sports writer

Coach Dan Medei has seen a number of boys and girls swim team members come and go during the course of a season in his three years at St. Johns Country Day School, and the on-again, off-again interest is one reason he established the Spartan Aquatic Club four months ago.

"There are so many activities a kid can do -- soccer, golf, tennis," Medei said. "Sometimes it's hard to keep [the kids] around swimming."

To his delight, about 80 swimmers, ranging in age from 6 to 18, have stayed active in the club, which is open to anyone and will operate year-round as a member of the River City Swim League.

Medei and his four assistant coaches have seen virtually every club member improve his times in each of the Spartans' six summer dual meets, and no one appears discouraged that the team has won just once.

"I think it has gone very well," Medei said. "The improvement from day one to the final week has been tremendous. That's what we focus on -- personal improvement."

Ninth-grader Michael Hoffman, who competes in the 100-yard breast stroke and the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, is a great example, Medei said.

"His improvement has been unbelievable," Medei said. "He's taken 5 to 10 seconds off his times in his races. It's because he comes to practice and works hard."

Hoffman and the rest of the swimmers get their first taste of intense competition when they travel to The Bolles School tomorrow to swim in the River City Swim League's annual end-of-summer championships. The 20-team meet, which draws about 2,000 swimmers from the Jacksonville area, runs through Sunday.

While his swimmers have improved during his three years at St. Johns, so have Medei's coaching accomplishments. Only four swimmers qualified for the state meet at the end of his first year, but six made it the next year and 11 qualified last year. …

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