Even though the Cullman Swim Team has been in existence for over a half-decade, the participation exploded in the summer of the 2009, due to two factors.

For one, the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center opened. And another factor, according to Cullman coach Alison Norris, it was the summer after the Olympics.

“With us getting the aquatic center right after the Olympics, I think those two things came together to really make the kids think about the swimming team,” said Norris, who swam on her high school team in Kentucky.

This year’s team, which opened competition Tuesday against Madison, has about 120 members, down slightly from last year.

The members range in age from 6-18, with the competitors broken down into age categories.

The preliminary meets, from now until the middle of July, are just that — preliminaries to the district and state meets for the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association.

The District II meet will be in Guntersville in the middle of July and the state meet will be in Cullman on July 23-25.

“To qualify for state, they have to beat certain times for the event and they have to finish in the top 12 at the section meet,” Norris said. “These kids really work hard. All the ones 11 years or older practice five mornings a week.”

There is competition in the breast stroke, the 25-yard freestyle, the back stroke, the fly and the 50-yard freestyle, as well as relay events.

Stan Veitch can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at stanv@cullmantimes.com.

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