Stingrays Swimming: Timing is Everything

GOLD RIVER, CA (MPG)  |  By Jan Float
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May 5 is Time Trials, when all swimmers establish seed times for their first home meet against Arden Hills on May 12. Photo by Tom Jones

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Rounding out May Days, on the 4th and 11th at 5:45, Gold River’s Mini-Rays are participating in their first two meets of the season. Photo by Tom Jones

GOLD RIVER, CA (MPG) - It’s Showtime! The Stingrays are taking the plunge Back into the Water. Time to roll out the good times, set lofty goal times and streamline into new times. May 5 is Time Trials, when all swimmers establish seed times for their first home meet (aka Pool Party) against Arden Hills on May 12. Then the geared-up pendulum starts swinging into a full summer season. May Days are wind-the-clock days. Time keeps on tickin’, kickin’, flippin’ … into the future!

Swimmers, as individuals and a team, challenge themselves and shatter the clock. During this early time of the season, athletes often leap out of the pool, dropping whole seconds to dissolve in chlorine. Toward year’s end, in peak condition and competitive mode, races are cinched by 100ths of a second, far less than the blink of an eye. It’s about time!

Three years ago, the Stingrays invested in what’s called the wireless Colorado system, a mini-version of those seen at world-class levels. Red digital times pop up within nanoseconds of swimmers slamming into the wall and before they can whip their heads around to absorb results. A handy time tool during the adrenaline rush of a splash and dash.    

Because time is of the essence, parental-volunteer timers form a line at the finish of each lane and, with human precision, click their stopwatches. These backups are used in the rare event of a Colorado malfunction or as verification of a discrepancy or tie. When there’s a bonafide tie between two swimmers – watch out! Everybody gets wound up. Time for a race-off!  

Older swimmers are trained to count every stroke and every breath. In contrast to this photo (a 100-yard back tie-breaker), the duo is typically head for head. As the intensity swells, it’s inevitable: One will catch the other. Now you’ve got a serious duel in the pool, which ultimately comes down to the final technique, a seamless series of ingrained motion. A race-off never disappoints – always a breathtaking nail-biter. Time flies when you’re having fun.     

All dolphin-kick starts, turns, and finishes are critical … so much so that backups are added to backups, albeit oftentimes for different purposes. As Timing is everything, coaches grab their stopwatches and, while simultaneously viewing the Colorado, record teammates’ split times. Each lap counts; each swimmer reaches sky-high: “I’m so proud of my new personal best time, and ‘I Believe’ I’ll do even better next time!” For the coaching staff, these objective times are frequently called upon for split-second decisions.  

Rounding out May Days, on the 4th and 11th at 5:45, Gold River’s Mini-Rays are participating in their first two meets of the season. In previous years, they’ve swum in four. These mighty Minis work so hard and improve so much in their respective strokes (the 25 free and 25 back) that they’re being moved up next month into the Stingrays’ six-and-under age-group. You’re all encouraged to take a time out and watch them swim their hearts out. It’s showtime. Come on out and enjoy the show!  

May 5 is Time Trials, when all swimmers establish seed times for their first home meet against Arden Hills on May 12. Photo by Tom JonesRounding out May Days, on the 4th and 11th at 5:45, Gold River’s Mini-Rays are participating in their first two meets of the season. Photo by Tom JonesSwimmers, as individuals and a team, challenge themselves and shatter the clock. Photo by Tom Jones