Marlins go along swimmingly

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Natalie Cook swims to her own beat in competition and at play in swimming pools here and throughout South Central Tennessee.

If there's a sport youngsters might prefer as Tennessee temperatures hover at 100 degrees this summer, it's probably swimming, and here in Marshall County, there's a real winning team.

"Absolutely," says dedicated parent Teresa Cook of Beechcrest Circle in Lewisburg whose 11-year-old daughter, Natalie, is a student at Marshall Elementary School and one of the Marshall County Swim Team's Marlins.

"This is our seventh year to compete," Cook said, "and we're beating the heat."

Swimmers are 4-18 years old and there are about 35 on the team. The Marlins' head coach is Jeff Borne. His daughter, Ariel, is a Marlin. Angie Richter is the president of the swim club's board of directors. The Marlins' assistant coaches are Kaitlyn Brindle and Kevin Smith, a Columbia State Community College student at Lewisburg who's been working as a lifeguard at Lewisburg's Recreation Center pool.

"He swam with us in the past," Cook said. "The Rec Center is where they practice."

The Marlins competed in two swim meets in Lewisburg, and meets in Lawrenceburg, Fayetteville, Manchester, Shelbyville and Athens, Ala.

"Our championship was at the University of the South at Sewanee in Franklin County," Cook said.

While the Marlins are a team, much of the competition is between individuals.

"It is competitive swimming - racing against the clock," Cook said. "It is a team sport in that the older swimmers encourage the younger members. We have a young team with a lot of new members.

"We practice three days a week for an hour and a half each day and it's a strenuous practice," she continued. "You have to be dedicated. It's tough work. They probably have fun, but it the time and energy pays off when they get medals.

To medal you had to come in among the top eight swimmers.

"It's not just going in and having a good time.

"We're finished with our swim meets for this season," Cook said.

It was Natalie's idea to become a Marlin.

"She'd taken swim lessons at age 4, and that's a good time to learn," Natalie's mom said. "We had a pool at the time and it was a natural step to take, and she had friends on the team that year."

The Marlins compete among nine teams from nine counties, and as one might expect they swim the butterfly, Australian crawl, backstroke and breaststroke.

The Marshall County Swim Club was founded in 2004. It's a volunteer program.

"We rely on our parents to support our team," said Cook, who also serves as the team's fundraising and advertising chairman. "We also have sponsors throughout Marshall County who we appreciate greatly."

The competitive swim team members learn the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship as well as physical, emotional and intellectual skills.

"We encourage each swimmer to do their best," she said. "Improving swim time is encouraged throughout the season."

Voluntary practices resume the second Monday in September. There will be several mini-camps this winter.