NEWBERRY — For the 12th consecutive year, the Newberry YMCA swim team has won the Summer Championship in the Carolina YMCA Swim League (CYSL).
The championship took place over the weekend at the Georgetown YMCA and the Newberry team earned 1,021.50 points. They won by 69.5 points, with the Beaufort YMCA coming in second.
“I was very excited when I learned we won on Sunday. I was just proud of our swimmers, especially because it was such a close meet,” said Khristia Webb, aquatics director and team coach.
The YMCA swim team, known as the Newberry Eels, was formed in 1992. The first win by the Eels took place in 1996 and they continued to win until 2000. They took home the win once again in 2002, but in 2004 the win streak began.
Zac Sarka and Virginia Summer are coaches for the Eels, but before that they participated on the team — Sarka from 2008-14 and Summer from 2002-12.
“It is a good feeling to know that our swimmers continue to have that competitive and have that spirit. During this year’s competition the parents are just cheering and yelling to help the kids go faster,” Sarka said.
Sarka and Summer are both proud that the team is continuing to win after they stopped swimming, and started coaching. Although they know it takes harder training and commitment every year.
“I could not be at the meet, but I was at home doing a craft when I heard the news. I screamed and jumped up I was so happy,” Summer said.
This year’s meet had around 80 to 90 events, including freestyle and breaststroke, with 10 YMCA programs from around the state participating. A total of 165 swimmers participated in this championship, with 38 being from Newberry. The Newberry team was tied Beaufort with the most swimmers.
“In this sport, the more swimmers you have, the better your team can do. In the past Newberry has had the most team members, but in the past three years that gap has been closing,” Webb said. “Last year we won by 300 points, where as this year we won by 69 and a half.”
Despite having the same number of players as Beaufort, Newberry pulled out victories in most of the categories. For the overall girl’s team, Newberry took second with 432 and for overall boy’s team took home first with 589.50. That combined score gave Newberry the overall win.
Ethan Burge and Ben Hawkins took home first and second place in the boys 13-14 division. Both said they were nervous before the meet because they did not think they would take home a top victory this year.
“We had to push harder this year to win. We had to try harder than we used to have to to win,” Hawkins said.
Burge said that was due to the fact they did not have as many swimmers competing with Newberry this year. In years past the Newberry team would have 60 or even 80 swimmers.
“The kids in our age group, there were maybe one or two fierce competitors, but the rest were not as fast as us,” Hawkins said. “But we knew we had to get big scores for the overall win.”
Because swimming is gaining in popularity, Webb hopes the team will gain more swimmers for next year. The team will start winter training on Aug. 10 for the Winter Championship and they will start training for 2016 Summer Championship after Spring Break.
“For the youths that overlap on both teams, it is like they train year round. Most of them also are on their high school’s swim team,” Webb said.
The individual brackets for the competition are broken up by age. The youngest Newberry swimmer was age 7, and the oldest was 18. The individual for each age division are as follows:
7-8 Girls – Individual
4) Jorja McGee, 7, with 32 points.
7) Kaley Burge, 8, with 24 points.
8) Jenna Burge, 8, with 20 points
9) Tessa Taylor, 7, and Madeline Senn, 8, tied with 17 points.
7-8 Boys – Individual
4) Will Hawkins, 7, with 30 points.
9-10 Girls – Individual
8) Josie Shepherd, 9, with 23 points.
10) Claire Hawkins, 10, with 17 points.
9-10 Boys – Individual
8) Hunter Piersol, 9, with 22 points.
9) Ben P. Hawkins, 9, with 19 points.
10) Graylyn Lewis, 10, with 18 points.
11-12 Girls – Individual
5) Katie Belle Barbour, 11, with 29 points.
13-14 Girls – Individual
5) Jordyn Clark, 13, with 33 points.
13-14 Boys – Individual
1) Ethan Burge, 13, with 44 points.
2) Ben Hawkins, 13, with 42 points.
7) Fritz Lewis, 13, with 25 points
8) Adam Carrier, 14, with 22 points.
15-18 Boys – Individual
1) Adam Westwood, 17, with 44 points.
3) Bailey Clark, 17, with 38 points.
5) Colby Berry, 17, with 29 points.
7) Dillon Webb, 17, with 27 points.
“Next year I hope to gain more swimmers for the team, and train even harder. This way we can continue to win and bring that victory home to Newberry,” Webb said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.