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Twin Lakes Penguins embrace summer swim season
It was a warm and cloudy Tuesday afternoon when the Twin Lakes Penguins hosted the Lakeridge Dolphins at the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club.
This swim meet, designed as a means of competition between two teams, was actually more friendly than expected.
“That's really what the summer swim is about,” said Penguins head coach Megan Woodworth. “It's for fun, and improving as a swimmer.”
The atmosphere of fun mixed with competition was immediately apparent — especially with Penguins big and small dressed as pirates.
“Each of our home meets has a theme,” said Woodworth. “This week's is pirates. We want the kids to enjoy these meets. It's summer, so we want the kids to have a good time.”
And a good time was exactly what was in store for the more than 80 Penguin swimmers.
With so many swimmers, ranging from ages 4 to 18, Woodworth would be overwhelmed if not for the help from volunteers and her two assistant coaches.
“A lot of our job is making sure the younger ones are at their starting blocks on time,” said assistant coach Aidan Willers. “We make sure their parents are informed and we help keep a little bit of order during warm-ups and meets.”
Noah Johnson, the Penguins' second assistant coach, pointed out that the older swimmers took the competition a little more seriously.
“At the older levels, emotions can sometimes run a little high,” he said. “We get into it as well, and if it's a close heat, we'll even run along with them and cheer them on.”
Woodworth and her two assistants have a lot on their hands, considering the large number of Penguins that competed.
Enter the Penguin parents.
Parents and volunteers provided decorations, organization, and concessions for their swimmers, demonstrating a solid commitment from the community.
“The parents and volunteers help out so much,” said Coach Woodworth. “We also get volunteer officials and help with announcing and recording times. They help make it a real team.”
This is Woodworth's first time as part of the Penguin summer program. She has been a swim coach for a few years, and luckily, her two assistant coaches are Penguin graduates.
“We both came graduated as Penguins last year,” said Willers. “This is our first year as coaches, but we've been swimming and a part of this since we were young.”
Both Willers and Johnson said that before each meet, Woodworth does a complete lineup, which affords her the opportunity to make on-the-spot adjustments during the meet.
“Sometimes these meets can last late into the evening,” said Johnson. “So we structure the heats to get the younger kids done earlier, they get tired faster.”
The Twin Lake Penguins program lasts for just over two months, not a lot of time to make major improvements but enough time for the swimmers to enjoy their summer and get a little practice.
“For the little ones, we want them to swim the whole length of the pool without touching the wall,” said coach Woodworth. “For the older swimmers, we work on shaving some of their times and tweaking certain parts of their strokes.”
Drawing on her experience coaching, Woodworth said that even though two months isn't a lot of time to work on specifics, the kids benefit from the program.
“Whatever they improve on makes the team better,” she said. “Winning all the time is nice and it's fun, but summer swim is a little bit of competition mixed with recreation.”
Woodworth recalled that after an earlier meet this year, the Penguins pushed all three coaches into the pool — while they were all completely clothed.
“Some other teams take these meets a lot more seriously,” said assistant coach Johnson. “But we're one of the smaller teams in the league, so it's more about the fun of swimming.”
The meet on Tuesday ended in a Penguin defeat, but the coaches don't seem too upset about it.
“We've only won one meet this year so far," Woodworth said. "We're competitive but mostly it's friendly competition.”
Pictured: assistant coaches Noah Johnson and Aidan Willers with two Penguins.
Pictured: Penguin swimmers warm up
Pictured: Head Coach Megan Woodworth