Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

River City Championships Prove to Be Family Affair

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

River City Championships Prove to Be Family Affair

Article excerpt

Byline: Jason Schneider, Times-Union sports writer

The River City Swim League Championships are more than just a city swimming competition to Robert Hayes.

For him, the competition means a lot, which is why he drove six hours from Atlanta earlier this week so his five children could compete at the 2003 championships.

The event at The Bolles School completed its second day of competition yesterday.

Last summer, after the 2002 championships, the Hayes family moved to Atlanta, much to the Hayes children's displeasure.

"It was bad," 14-year old Robby Hayes said. "I wanted to stay and board at Bolles."

Robby Hayes had been swimming in River City meets since he was 5. His two brothers --John Michael, 11, and Patrick, 10, -- and his two sisters -- Katie, 13, and Grace, 7, -- all regularly competed in River City swim meets. But the Hayes family found a compromise. They would come back to Jacksonville over the summer so that their five children could continue to swim in the River City Swim League. It was made easier because Robert Hayes' parents retired to Ponte Vedre three years ago, but the trek from Atlanta to Jacksonville takes two cars to transport seven people and all their stuff.

"[The drive down] can be incredibly stressful," said Holly Hayes, Robert's wife. "We have a lot of video games and videos going on in the car."

Because of the swim league rules, for a swimmer to be eligible to swim in the championships, they must have competed in at least three River City meets over the summer season, the family has had to make the trip several times.

This summer, they have timed vacations to fall during swim meets and will continue to as long as their children remain eligible to compete.

"We've been back forth between Jacksonville and Atlanta so much that it just seemed like the natural thing to do if we are going to be here this much," Robert Hayes said. …

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