SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Swim Team has taken a page out of the Bronc football book in terms of year-round workouts.
Sheridan High School aquatics director and head swim coach Brent Moore and assistant coach Jory Turk are building a swim community with intensive youth involvement in their sport by way of the SST club. The non-profit club has about 50 athletes of all-ages and abilities.
“Being in the pool year round allows us to compete at the highest level in the state,” Moore explained. “Without kids willing to put in some pool time outside your 10-week (high school) season, we aren’t able to compete in the top tier in Wyoming.”
“The growth has far-exceeded our expectation,” Moore said. “We thought it would be a few more years before we got to 50 — especially in the summer time.”
Moore said that due to competing summer activities, they traditionally see participation drop, but this summer has been encouraging.
“I would definitely say there is a new interest in swimming here in Sheridan,” he said. “I would love for your community to be well known for it’s swimming athletes at the high school and club levels. More importantly than that, we would like our swimming athletes to be well known as high character people.”
He attributed that growing swimming community to enthusiasm among athletes as well as the support of their families. The older kids — junior high and high school-aged — swim Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.. That’s a sure commitment in what can be a lazy summer for a free-from-school kid.
“It’s one thing to get up and drive yourself to morning practice, but something completely different to have parents who will support your commitment or to get on your bike or walk to the pool that early,” Moore said.
SST club president Chase McFadden credited the growth right back to coaches Moore and Turk.
“They are awesome for the kids,” McFadden said. He has watched the club’s growth since his oldest son Nolan joined when there were about 20 kids in 2012.
The year before that, Moore’s first, that number was just 10 athletes.
The SST has opportunities, if the athletes so choose, to compete every weekend. They try to attend at least one meet per month, with the goal of choosing meets as local as possible to maximize participation and minimize the financial burden on families.
“The beauty of swimming is each kid competes at their own level,” Moore said. “We have been taking swimmers to meets this summer who are competing for their first time with teammates who are All-State high school athletes, and zone qualifiers.”
The SST will compete in Wyoming Summer State July 19-21 in Gillette before moving right into the fall junior high and high school seasons.
Under Moore, the SHS swim team has fought from low-participation to becoming increasingly competitive in the past two years. The Broncs qualified four individuals from the boys team for the 2013 state meet — growth for a team that had just eight swimmers the year before.
With higher numbers on the girls side, the Lady Broncs have grown into a potential state contender.
“In order to be a legitimate 4A power, we have to have a group dedicated to swimming more than just 10 weeks of the year,” Moore reiterated.