Before the sun rose Oct. 22, a handful of swimmers were splashing and racing through the Wellness Center pool to condition their bodies and set personal times as part of the newly formed Silver Tarpons swim team.
The team, headed by Tellico Village Tarpons head coach Kim Wiebe, held its first practice three weeks ago.
“I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while,” Wiebe said. “I’ve been talking to people to see ... how much interest there was. People have expressed interest for a while and this is our third practice, so we’re only three weeks in. It’s going really well, and we’re hoping to just grow from here.”
The proposal for a swim team came up in the summer when Wiebe and members of the Tellico Village Property Owners Association Recreation Department saw the need to have a “more competitive” option for swimmers in the Village.
“Kim and I had worked together to try and put something together to give folks that are swimming laps in the Aquatics Department, I guess, a new twist — something to work for,” Simon Bradbury, POA recreation director, said. “It’s not a full-fledged masters program, but she’s got great skills in teaching folks better strokes, getting flip turns and going to the next level. Some people want to have that competition, so there’s a variety of skill levels for it. We were looking at new ideas, you know, what we could do with aquatics. How can we take it to the next level?”
Wiebe brings more than 30 years of experience as a former Olympic Trial qualifier and swimmer for Miami University.
Swimmers are learning fundamentals and will continue to progress in the coming weeks.
“We’re starting out with the basics,” Wiebe said. “Just streamlining, getting a good streamline off the wall, how to use the walls and really push off, get the most out of our glide ... really reaching and rolling and stretching out our stroke. We’re basically working on freestyle first because that’s the most common way to swim, but we’ll eventually get to all four competitive strokes and get to flip turns and all that. We’re just starting out slow and just working on that freestyle stroke, working on that kick and just getting everything up to speed on that.”
Holly Seguine is a former high school swimmer who competes on a synchronized swim team. She joined the Silver Tarpons to help maintain conditioning and compete against other clubs.
“I started lessons when I was 4, and, I don’t know, I like the way it makes you feel,” she said. “It’s good weight control and health benefits, but I really just like the way it makes me feel. I started doing that in high school and have been doing it on and off since then. Competitively, I was at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, then I swam with the masters team in the Chicago area before I moved here in March.”
The team features 12 swimmers that possess a variety of skills.
“I provide instruction on stroke technique and different drills they can do to improve their stroke,” Wiebe said. “We do some conditioning after that and use some hand paddles, equipment and fins to help us. We’ve got these three lanes here to where you’ve got advanced swimmers in this lane, intermediate swimmers here and then maybe beginners in the third one. It allows me to cater to different skill sets.”
She hopes to have the team competing with other organizations by the end of spring.
“We’ll see what the group wants to do,” Wiebe said. “We might put together a little mock meet with the University of Tennessee masters group, potentially. We might do an open water swim in the summer, just a few different things. As far as going to any USA regional meet or national meet, I think that’ll probably be in a year or so if we end up doing that.”
“Yeah, we plan to compete with other programs,” Bradbury added. “We’re not a full-fledged masters program. Part of my understanding with a masters program is you open up to the whole community, and this is a private Wellness Center. The whole idea is we don’t want to make anything complicated, we just want the possibility of, ‘Hey, let’s try it and see what works’.”
The team practices 7-8:15 a.m. Tuesdays at the Wellness Center. For more information, contact Wiebe at 865-661-7365 or firstname.lastname@example.org.