BLUFFTON — Summer swimming is all about having fun, meeting new people and making friends.
There were more than 600 youth swimmers who dove into the Western Ohio Aquatic League Championships on day one of the two-day meet Friday at Bluffton Community Swimming Pool.
Westside leads after Friday’s competition with 1,385 points. Wapakoneta is second (1,259.5) and Ada rounds out the top three with 866.5 points. Shawnee Country Club is fourth (631), Sherwood is fifth (619.5), Bluffton is sixth (560), Van Wert is seventh (488) and Kenton is eighth (210.5).
The culmination of the meet will begin at 9:10 a.m. today with the Mayor’s Award Presentation. Swimming begins at 9:45 a.m.
There was only one meet record set on the first day. Paige Brinkman of Shawnee Country Club set the record in the Girls 8-and-Under 25-meter butterfly with a time of 19.18.
Heading into the meet, Westside was the seven-time defending champion. The team’s star, Emily Murphy, won three events. The senior-to-be at Shawnee High School won the Girls 15-and-Over 50 free (27.42), the 100 IM (1:11.96) and the 50 fly (29.65).
Westside also received a solid performance from Erik Risolvato. The Shawnee product won the Boys 15-and-Over 50 free (24.14) and the 50 meter fly (27.04).
“We did really well, we kept telling our swimmers to work on their finishes such as butterfly and breaststroke to finish with two hands,” Westside coach Trevon Shaffer said. “We’ve been motivating the kids, keeping their spirits high and pumping them up for their events.”
Even though Van Wert was in seventh place after day one, they still got great performances out of two younger swimmers.
Emma Pollock won three events while Sam Easley won two.
Pollock won the Girls 9-10 50 free (35.45), the 100 IM (1:30.24) and the 50 fly (40.27).
“I just had to swim hard pretty much,” Pollock said. “The 50 butterfly is my favorite, for me I have asthma and it doesn’t get me really tired. I like making a bunch of new friends. The older kids give me a lot of tips to help me get better.”
Easley, who will be a freshman at Van Wert, won the Boys 13-14 50 free (26.79) and the 50 meter fly (29.56).
“I’m still a little bit slower than what I wanted to be,” Easley said. “This (summer swimming) helps give me more endurance. It will help me swim longer and faster.”
Carter Schaaf and Aleah Hixenbaugh led Shawnee Country Club.
Schaaf, who will be a sixth grader at Shawnee, won the Boys 9-10 50 free (33.37), the 100 IM (1:28.92) and the 50 fly (41.20).
“The 50 free is my favorite because I get to swim as fast as I can and I get to do what I like to do,” Schaaf said. “The competition helps me get better.”
Hixenbaugh will be a sophomore at Shawnee and won the Girls 13-14 50 free (29.72) and the 100 IM (1:14.88).
“I came out here to have fun,” Hixenbaugh said. “It’s the best meet of the year. I’ve been swimming it since I was really young with my siblings and I just do it for fun. The spirit and seeing people who love to be here is the best part about it.”
Mitchell Wilcox led the Ada squad by winning the Boys 15-and-Over 100 IM (1:05.65).
“I got a good time for my 100 IM so I was happy,” Wilcox said. “Summer swimming is a lot less stressful. It’s all about technique and meeting new people around here. I’ve made so many little friends and it’s great to be around all the little kids.”
Kyla Dawson, who just graduated from Bluffton High School, is happy that her last summer swim meet is at her home pool.
“I’m glad that this was back at Bluffton,” Dawson said. “It’s kind of sad but I’d like to coach next year. I’ll still be back at it.”
Having more than 600 swimmers and their families come to town for the meet helps out as well.
“It brings business to the businesses downtown,” Dawson said. “It was really busy setting up.”