The Oconee County Swim League made a name for itself at the state competition when it finished second at the GRPA swim meet in Catoosa.
The league, composed of local clubs, sent nearly 50 swimmers from ages 7 to 15 to the state meet. While these swimmers typically compete in opposing teams during the rest of the season, at this meet, individuals from Shamrock, Summer Hill, Oconee Club, and Georgia Club joined under the same name to compete.
Not everyone has the chance to compete at state, however. While swimmers just need to sign up for a spot on the all-star team, to make the state meet, they must finish top three in their event at districts. Almost all of the all-star swimmers did so.
Before districts, first-year all-star coaches Keaton Coletti and David Mustard practiced with the team for three weeks. To get more individual focus, the practices were split into two groups based on ages.
Swimmers 11 and up practiced from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m., while swimmers 10 and under had a shorter practice from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
For those weeks, Coletti and Mustard focused on endurance. Summer meets don’t focus so much on long events as they do sprints, so the coaches trained swimmers for racing ability and speed with short breaks between those races. The coaches focused on technique as well with the younger swimmers.
While the Oconee Swim League was predicted to finish second or third as a team, the coaches were still impressed with the team’s finish.
“We had a lot of kids who were really excited to compete,” said Coletti. “They just really love racing, they love competing with other swimmers and so we had a lot of kids who dropped time, meaning they got personal best times, partly due to the fact that they enjoy competing with the other fast swimmers on the all-star team. We had a lot of great races at practice, especially the younger kids would always be asking to race at the end of practice. So I think that was a big help. They worked hard all season so they’re just naturally improving.”
While the team overall came in second, many individual performances stood out.
J.P. Rabon, an 8-year-old swimmer, competed in five events: the 25-yard breast, 50-yard free, 100-yard IM, 100-yard free relay and 100-yard medley relay. Rabon won all of his races.
Joey Rhine, an 11-year-old swimmer, won four of his events, three of which were individual: the 50-yard back, 100-yard free, 100-yard IM and 200-yard medley. Rhine additionally finished second in the 200-yard free relay.
Many other swimmers finished well and even won their own races.
“All our swimmers across the board impressed me with their improvement,” said Mustard. “And then, obviously, it paid off in their performance at state.”
Mustard and Coletti competed for the Summer Hill Barracudas before becoming coaches. They are both former all-star swimmers for the Oconee Swim League.
“It was a great experience to coach with Keaton, too,” said Mustard. “We started swimming together for Summer Hill at age 10 and swam all the way up through age 18. We were really, really good friends and then we got the opportunity to kind of see it from a coaching perspective, which was super, super fun. We got the opportunity to also pass on what we have learned and our own experiences swimming summer, high school and club. We got to pass that onto our kids which was so cool.”