WORTHINGTON -- It’s that time of year for the Worthington Stingrays swim team. The time for another state meet, which means it’s time for swimmers to step up -- and their parents, too.
Unlike high school-sponsored sports, competitive swimming doesn’t use buses to transport its athletes to competitions, so Stingray parents are responsible for getting them to this Sunday’s Minnesota state event at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
With about 50 Stingrays eligible for this year’s meet, that’s a lot of road trips.
“That’s the scary part,” said veteran coach Donna Damm this week. “Because I never know how many are going to be there. I pray they all show up. ‘Cuz if one of them doesn’t show up, it affects the relays.”
It’s enough to make a coach lose sleep at night. Damm promises she’ll have alternates on hand if the need arises, but no matter what happens, she’ll have her hands full.
As always, the Stingrays feature swimmers between the ages of 8 and 18. Several of the state participants are veterans who will compete this weekend in multiple events.
Roselynn Hartshorn is one of them. Competing in the 13-14 age group, she is eligible in five events -- three individual races and two relays. This is her first year with the Worthington team, coming over after competing with a club team in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“She is such a hard worker, always looking to improve,” said Damm. “She’s the type of swimmer that always wants me to talk to her before a race -- just for pointers.”
Two other girls who are leaders with the local team are Grace Fields and Marah Darling, who both swim with the 15-18 group and who both will test their state abilities in three individual and two relay events.
“Grace describes her to a tee,” Damm remarked about Fields, who is another who pushes herself to excel while setting high goals that she aims to achieve. “She’s tall and long and she uses her length very effectively.”
Two Stingray boys in the 15-18 age group who are also outstanding are Gerrit Bos and Jacob Mills -- who are also competing Sunday in five events.
Damm describes Bos as a powerful athlete. “He’s just power. You look at him and you can see the power. He powers through everything,” said his coach.
Mills is the only senior boy on the team, and he has practiced this winter around a job and other extracurricular activities. “He likes the harder events,” Damm said.
It’s been a good year so far, said Damm, who hopes it will get even better at the U of M.
“We had a lot of new kids this year. The team grew by 10 swimmers this year,” she said, adding, “With our numbers we’ll do well (at state). Because a lot of the teams in our section won’t bring a lot of swimmers. The new swimmers that had never been there at all, are going to be in awe.”
Drive safely, parents.