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Jenna Kelley swims the backstroke during the 100-yard medley relay on Monday night in the Barrcudas’ second meet of season. 

Parents dusted off the tents, packed the snacks and loaded the car with excited youth marked with sharpie as the summer swimming season kicked off on Thursday night.

Summer swimming is a three-week sprint to the Ramsey Center this season, but it’s a sprint that swimmers and coaches wait for all year long. Summer Hill head coach Scott Burrell coaches North Oconee High School’s varsity team and spends much of his time coaching to improve the results. The summer allows Burrell the chance to be outside as well as coaching swimming with results being a little less pressure-packed.

“It’s a nice shift from my job during the school year, I love being outside,” Burrell said. “Seeing the kids have fun, learn and get drastically better. There are huge improvements even just in a few weeks of swimming. The competitive side, I’m very much involved in, but also I love just the recreational side of it. I love the families that come out there and the whole family can participate on the same team and be in the same place at the same time, instead of being split across multiple sets of fields. That’s kind of unique in swimming. You might have a 6-year-old and a 14-year-old and you’re still going to be in that same place together. Parents bring their tents and they camp out for hours and hours for these meets and its fun.”

Burrell has seen generations of swimmers come through that now coach alongside him. The family atmosphere of the summer swim meets has allowed him and other area coaches to get to know entire families in the swimming community.

“There are kids that I’ve coached for 10 years or more on the team and it’s a lot of fun to have some of those same kids that have grown up on the team now coaching for our team,” Burrell said. “I find that very rewarding. It’s cool to see them now giving back to the team.”

Even with the leisurely attitude toward the summer swim season, there is a trophy handed out at the end of the four weeks of meets. The Barracudas have won that trophy the last three summers and are in search of a fourth-straight district championship.

For more on this story, see the June 6 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, go to oconeeenterprise.com or call (706) 769-5175.

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