by Olivia Wasilko
The Kittanning Belmont Swim Team brought home twelve first-place winners and the highest point award when they competed in the AK Valley Swim League Lollipops Championship on Saturday.
The competition, which is for swimmers aged eight and under, awards winners lollipops instead of trophies or ribbons, giving it the title of “Lollipops.” The meet for older swimmers, aged nine to seventeen, is more serious. The top three swimmers get medals and those up to twelfth place get ribbons. There is also a highest-point trophy for the swimmer with the most points.
The first place winners included Mya Dimaio, Bryony Shite, Aynsley Shite, Ella Weigel, and Dylayn Shite, who won the highest-point trophy for the girls’ team. The winner for the boys’ team was Ryan Bowser.
The team also won the trophy for the highest points overall, beating the other League teams by over one hundred points.
The meet was held at the Sylvan Pool in Natrona Heights. The Lollipops competitors swam relays and strokes of twenty-five yards, the equivalent of one lap around the pool. Older competitors swim fifty yards. Races included the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle.
Twenty-year-old Assistant Lifeguard and Head Coach Morgan Joseph, a swimmer for Edinboro University, says that the team is a good way for kids to compete without pressure.
“It’s a very easy way for kids to start swimming because the season isn’t long and the practices aren’t really serious,” Joseph said. “We teach mostly on learning the strokes and teaching the stroke techniques.”
Joseph said that she was involved in a similar program when she swam competitively as a child before going on to be a lifeguard for the Belmont three years ago.
“I did this the whole time I swam competitively and this was definitely an easy way to stay in shape and be in the water without being stressed over meets and qualifying times,” she said. “We have a lot of fun.”
She and twenty-one-year-old assistant coach Jaren Ananea were looking forward to what they called “the most exciting time of the season,” and they came home proud.