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Decatur Aquatics Club swimmer Kristen Page completes a lap during a recent workout.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith
Decatur Aquatics Club swimmer Kristen Page completes a lap during a recent workout.

Decatur Aquatics Club looks for more good swimmers

By Paul Stackhouse
sports@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

If you have the desire to swim well and can dedicate yourself to the sport, you may have what it takes to compete for the Decatur Aquatics Club.

At the least, DAC head coach Mark Sorrells would like to hear from you.

The swim team has about 60 members, and Sorrells wants to get the word out about the proud organization he instructs.

"I see us reaching out to our local elementary and middle schools in the near future to tell students what we are all about," Sorrells said. "I would really like to see our numbers grow and get as many kids involved as possible.

"Also, I believe that teachers and school officials would like the fact that statistics show that students who participate in swimming sports such as our program do much better in school. That's something I believe is very important to making a good program."

Even though a recruiting drive is on, Sorrells said that someone can't just jump into the water and say he is a competitive swimmer.

Sorrells said there’s a little bit more to it than that. Sorrells made his point last week during a team practice at Point Mallard.

“I’ve been here talking for a good while and haven’t had to stop once and tell our swimmers to get busy or to get back to work,” said Sorrells, who is in his third year at the helm of DAC. “They have been in the water this whole time doing what they are supposed to do. That’s impressive.

“They haven’t stopped to talk or laugh or splash each other — they have been practicing.”

Pointing to the swimming students in the water, he added, “That’s self-discipline right there.”

The team works regularly all year. DAC recently has come out of the summer session where it has competed in community meets with teams such as Madison, Guntersville, Scottsboro, Cullman, Boaz and Arab.

Now that school is back in session, the format changes. DAC is a member of USA Swimming, and the team will enter many USA sponsored meets in its region in the near future.

“Most of them are two-, three-day meets,” Sorrells said. “I see us going to meets at Brentwood (Tenn.), Nashville, Huntsville, Madison, Tuscaloosa and Auburn.”

At many of the meets, the competition is based on age groups. These would include 6-and-under, 8-and-under, 10-and-under, 11-12, 13-14 and the senior division which is 15-and-over.

The four strokes that are used by DAC are butterfly, back, breast and freestyle.

Sorrells, who played water polo at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, is now the vice president of instant diagnostic systems for Letco Companies in Decatur. He said newcomers have to be able to do two things to join the team.

Without assistance, those trying out for the team must be able to swim 25 yards freestyle, take a break, then swim 25 yards utilizing a backstroke. If someone trying out is able to do that, they are eligible to receive instruction from Sorrells and assistant coach John Tucker, 25, who is involved in a web-based master’s program from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

Students are evaluated by the coaches and placed in one of three groups, which happen to be called white, red and blue. Practices generally are held at Point Mallard, Carrie Matthews or the Aquadome.

The white group is considered the least experienced and swims about 1,000 to 1,200 yards a game. The red group increases to about 2,000 to 2,400 yards, while the blue group swims about 4,000 to 6,000 yards.

“If someone watches one of our practices, they will quickly see that we emphasize repetitions,” Sorrells said. “We want the repetitions to become something of a habit, and if they get tired in a competition, the repetitions we work on will take over.

“Practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect. A lot of our students excel in motivation, self-discipline and dedication. That’s the way a good swimmer should be.

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