WAPAKONETA – Aliens, pirates and surfers were all part of the 37th annual Elks Invitational swim meet/Western Ohio Aquatic League championship opening parade to help get the fun going at the two-day event in Wapakoneta Friday.
One of the highlights of the championships is the parade where the eight teams competing pick a theme and dress up in the various costumes. Teams participating are Ada, Bluffton, Kenton, Shawnee, Sherwood, Van Wert, Wapakoneta and Kenton.
In addition to the popular parade, fans were treated to a resounding rendition of the national anthem played by Ada’s Ethan Daniels on the saxophone.
“Our kids have been preparing for seven weeks know and it is a culmination of the season where everybody comes together and we have one championship for the WOAL,” said Jennie Wilson, the meet director.
Wilson added that the primary mission is to compete but to also have fun and she said the annual parade is something the swimmers look forward to each year.
Over the next two days, Wilson said several 1,000 individuals will weave their way in and out of Wapakoneta pool to engage in camraderie and competition.
“It is a lot of fun and the kids all really look forward to this,” Wilson said. “Summer swim for us is important because not only does it teach a lot of kids swimming skills that can carry on but also gives them a love of swimming and we have fun,” Wilson said.
In addition to the competition, the Mayor’s Trophy will be given out. The trophy is given to an individual or individuals who have displayed an overwhelming spirit of volunteerism and unselfish dedication to the endeavors of Lima-area swim programs.
Also on tap will be the annual Memorial Relay that closes the meet. The relay has been established to recognize any/all swimmers, their parents or other friends of swimming who have died in the past year. The trophy will travel with the winning team until next year’s championships.
First day highlights included Brayden Warren and Kari Diller of the Bluffton Swim Team setting meet records in the 25 meter freestyle. Warren won the boys 6 and younger competition with a time of 24 seconds, breaking the mark of 24.59 set by Tobin Amspoker set in 2017. Diller broke Paige Brinkman’s 2013 mark of 19.18 for girls 7-8.
The Wapakoneta Waves’ Owen Becker won the boys 11-12 50 freestyle, 100 IM and 50 butterfly, Westside Swim & Racket Club’s Payton Meffley won the girls 15 and older 50 freestyle, 100 IM and 50 butterfly and Ada’s Tommy Spyker won the boys 13-14 50 freestyle, 100 IM and 50 butterfly).
Double individual race winners included the Kenton Area Swim Team’s Maddux McFarlin (boys 7-8 25 meter freestyle and 8 and younger 25 butterfly), Bluffton’s Jackson Bowlus (boys 9-10 50 freestyle and 100 IM) and June Essinger (girls 9-10 100 IM and 50 butterfly), Ada’s Carlie Oldfield (girls 13-14 50 freestyle and 100 IM) and Wapak’s Michael Johnston (boys 15 and older 100 IM and 50 butterfly).