Mary Jurkowski has reason to be proud of her daughter, Gracelee Lukas. She won first place in the girls 8 and under division at the Winter Haven Fall Opener swim meet, for the Charlotte County Swimming Blue Fins.
Jurkowski is a board member and secretary of Englewood Aquatics, which is part of the Fins.
“We had nine swimmers compete,” Jurkowski said. “We had 35 personal best times. We had 12-year-old Gage Denson, and he had set six personal best times. He dropped 11 seconds on his 200 (meter) freestyle.”
Jurkowski said the Englewood swim team trains five days a week for two hours a day at the Oyster Creek Regional Pool.
“The (swimmers) continue to carry personal achievements and have (awards),” she said. “Swimming is such a positive part of the kids’ lives. It’s become a nice family.”
Ryan Oliver’s sons, Jack and Joey, participate on the swim team. Jack won third place in the boys 6 and under category at the meet.
“(My sons) understand it’s not necessarily about competition, it’s about improving themselves and their times,” Ryan said. “They still like winning trophies and ribbons. This is the first time we’ve seen a trophy for this.”
He said his sons also enjoy playing baseball and basketball.
“Swimming will be more seasonal for them,” he said. “Swimming helps them with discipline. I see them striving to do better. It’s a very good discipline sport, and it’s good exercise.”
Kristin May supported the Blue Fins as a mother before becoming an assistant coach a month ago.
“Every day at practice, we try to get their stroke down and their technique,” May said. “Every day is a little triumph, and they turn bigger ones.”
May said swimming is different from any other sport because it’s both an individual and a team sport.
“It’s about getting a better time, and they’re competing against themselves,” May said.
May used to swim competitively in high school, and she remembered what it meant to her.
“I miss the practice,” she said. “You can clear your head and think about your stroke. It’s kind of … euphoric, being one with the water. I love swimming, whether … it’s recreationally or competitive.” For more information, visit http://www.teamunify.com .