By Darlene Denstorff
Ascension Section editor
July 19, 2012
“They’re a great group of kids, and I’ve seen them grow and improve in and out of the pool.” Vicki Krysiak, coach
BURNSIDE — Swimmers with the Pelican Point Waves Swim Team ended their season last week with a survivor challenge series to test their knowledge of strokes, fitness and rules of the pool.
The final week included 20 challenges for the swimmers to tackle in and out of the water and a bowling and burger party.
In a parking lot next to the Pelican Point pool, swimmer Jonathan McKeough, 13, showed off his skills outside the pool during a July 5 meeting.
Jonathan and about 20 other swimmers took part in agility and speed challenges, including relay races, sit-ups and jumps.
“It’s a nice way to end the season,” coach Vicki Krysiak said.
The Waves started their season with camp in April. Some of the swimmers started in March with practices at an indoor pool in St. Gabriel.
This year’s Waves team had 94 members.
“It’s been a great season,” she said. “The kids learned and improved and we had fun along the way.”
The team ended the season with a second-place overall win in the Baton Rouge city meet and a first-place victory in the team’s size category.
“It (the city meet) was fun, frantic and chaotic just like a normal city meet,” she said.
The Waves earned the Al Robelot Award for team quality for the second year.
Seven Waves swimmers earned city champions titles: Camille Chopin, 7- to 8-year-old butterfly; Drue Gautreau, 9 to 10 butterfly; Ryan Hurst, 11 to 12 breaststroke; Chase Masten, 9 to 10 butterfly; Jonathan McKeough, 13 to 14 breaststroke and individual medley; and Andrew Wright, 9 to 10 backstroke.
Waves relay teams placed first in six events. In the girls’ 7- to 8-year-old freestyle relay, the team of Victoria Winter, Mia Robichaux, Camden Hull and Camille Chopin won first place. Camden, Olivia Brunet, Camille and Victoria won the girls’ 7 to 8 medley relay. In the girls’ 9 to 10 free and medley relays, the team of Abby Schexnaydre, Drue Gautreau, Mallorie Nichols and Kylie Madere finished in first place and the 13 to 14 boys’ free and medley relays were won by Jonathan McKeough, Nate Chopin, Alfonso Bittle and Jared Schexnaydre.
Out of the pool
With two stopwatches in one hand and a clipboard in the other, Krysiak timed the swimmers as they took part in the beanbag relay race on July 5.
“Faster, faster,” she said, as the Waves team members dashed from one end of the parking lot to the other.
Next, the youths lined up to see how many hurdle hops they could complete in 30 seconds. The challenge called for the youths to jump over a 12-inch hurdle.
“It looks harder than it is,” she said.
Mallorie Nichols, 10, successfully completed 35.
“That’s not 30 seconds yet,” he said halfway through her turn.
With a smooth jumping rhythm, Emily Winters, 14, finished the skill challenge with 52 jumps.
While the swimmers were having fun taking part in the various fitness skills, Krysiak said, their scores showed the level of fitness each attained throughout the season.
“They’re a great group of kids, and I’ve seen them grow and improve in and out the pool,” she said.
Krysiak received assistance this year from coaches Kenny Ridgdel, Jill Tripp and Robin Hurst, Krysiak said.
Preparing for the meet
Krysiak, the coaches and swimmers spent June 25 through June 28 preparing for the Baton Rouge city meet at LSU.
During an early morning practice on June 27, Krysiak went over a few swim meet pointers with her swimmers.
“It’s a warm pool, so be ready,” she said.
“I want you all to go home and get to sleep,” Krysiak said, adding that she wanted the swimmers to “be well rested for tonight.”
As the 13- to 18-year-old swimmers finished their practice, the younger swimmers started arriving for the next session.
Swimmer Madeline Lato, 13, grabbed her towel and headed home after the practice.
Madeline, who has been swimming with the Waves since 2008, said she was going to take Krysiak’s advice and rest “so I’m at my peak tonight for the meet.”
Madeline, who swam the back and breast strokes at the city meet, said swimming gives her something fun and rewarding to do during summer break.
“It’s something to do instead of just sitting around all summer long,” Madeline said.
Keely Ladner, whose daughter Maggie, 7, is in her second year with the Waves, said swimming gives her daughter “a great opportunity to interact with other kids.”
“We had a blast last year and she really wanted to come back this season,” Ladner said.
Ladner said that while it’s rough to make the early morning practices, her daughter never complains.
“The coaching staff is fabulous and have made it a fun summer,” Ladner said. “It’s amazing how well they know the kids. It’s almost a science to running the meets.”
As the swimmers practiced their different strokes, Krysiak surveyed the lanes, clipboard in hand and whistle around her neck.
In addition to suggestions on how to improve times and strokes, Krysiak shared words of encouragement.
Krysiak, who helped to start the Waves program several years ago, said she wouldn’t want to do anything else with her summers.
Now that the swim team season is over, Krysiak will send the rest of the summer teaching swimming lessons.
She’s also planning a new swim team for youths age 10 to 14 who are home-schooled.
The program will take place from August to October, with practices held twice a week, she said.
An orientation meeting will be held in late July. Swimmers who can complete a 25-yard freestyle and backstroke swim can register for the team, she said.
For more information, email Krysiak at firstname.lastname@example.org.