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COLUMN: Local swimmers deserve spotlight

When one thinks of local high school sports, it is quite likely that swimming is not the first athletic competition to come to mind.

Maybe it should garner more attention.

Last Wednesday night at the Big Red Natatorium, local teams competed during senior night. The balcony bleachers were full and the atmosphere was, especially during close races, a fun one to take in.

All of the coaches I talked to afterward commented on how nice the crowd was for their seniors. The atmosphere and added intensity to the event I’m sure was a nice boost for local swimmers as they gear up for their crunch time with the upcoming OVAC meet in just under two weeks, and the sectional meet in early February.

Flash back to last year’s sectional meet at the same pool, and the place was downright electric.

Having never covered the sport before that event, I was not quite sure what to expect. Seeing the passion for the sport, one that is not talked about nearly as often as some other sports in the area, was something I will never forget.

Afterward, like on Wednesday, coaches and swimmers alike commented on the atmosphere.

A recurring theme during those conversations last February was how interest in swimming peaks during a Summer Olympic year, which last year was not, obviously.

As someone who grew up watching Michael Phelps dominate the pools across the world every four years growing up, I can see how that would be.

I even sent my mom a text message after the event, telling her how seeing the energy for a swim meet brought back memories of intently watching the coverage of swimming during the Olympics. It is my favorite sport to watch every four years, and has been since I was old enough to understand the Olympics.

To local swimmers, though, it doesn’t matter if the best in the world are competing for medals this summer. They are showing up and working hard, just like athletes in other local sports.

They do not get talked about as much other sports, but they compete just the same.

That competitive spirit in its rawest form is what local sports are all about and what makes events enjoyable to cover for people like me fortunate enough to get to do it.

Local swimmers are a pretty tight-knit group, too. Even when competing against one another.

If you like watching the highest level of the sport every four years, give a local meet a try. It might just surprise you, and I am sure the support would be appreciated by those involved.

(Grimm can be reached at agrimm@heraldstaronline.com)

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