The Aquaknights, a Brentwood-affiliated summer recreation swim team serving children from all over far East County, is making some serious waves so far this season.
The 8U swimmers recently took second place at the Martinez Invitational and the Aquaknights have defeated American Canyon and Crocket soundly in their first two dual meets of the season.
We're very proud of them, said Aquaknights president Kelly Fedel, who stressed that sportsmanship was a key component of the organization's program, and that she didn't want to see the kids get too full of themselves.
The Aquaknight program comprises swimmers from the age of 4 all the way up to 18, and the organization is dedicated to making sure it offers valuable instruction and team-building activities to benefit the individual needs of its swimmers.
The swimmers are broken up both by age and ability to accommodate the needs of the 200-plus athletes in the program, and while the younger swimmers focus primarily on learning proper stroke technique, the older swimmers are busy refining those techniques while adding yardage to their swims.
We have a lot of stars, and they're different levels of stars, explained Fedel. Some kids came in and they're excelling and going to County and breaking records, and we celebrate their achievements and it's incredible. But we also have other kids who, in their own way, have achieved incredible goals, like being able to make it across the length of the pool on their own, and that's a big success story for that child and that family.
Although the swimmers are divided in practice, the 'Knights also provide plenty of opportunities for the older and younger swimmers to interact socially, such as buddy picnics, in which the older swimmers are paired with a younger buddy for the day, and mixed relays, an opportunity for younger kids and older kids to swim on the same relay teams.
We work hard, but we play hard, too, said Fedel. We really make it very family oriented and child focused. It's a great lifelong sport for the kids and it really helps them build friendships and confidence.
The team building doesn't stop with the athletes in the pool, as the 'Knights rely on the overwhelming generosity of parents and volunteers to pull off swim meets, which require several timers and other officials working each lane.
Being a part of the Aquaknights has taught me that complete strangers can and will come together to do all sorts of crazy, different, time consuming, out-of-their-comfort-zone types of things, said Aquaknight parent Bev Montez. I see parents who have first-time swimmers signing up for work assignments they never thought they'd do, and veteran families right beside them showing them the ropes. I see parents clapping, even at practices, for kids they don't even know the tiniest swimmer swimming with all her determination to make it across the pool and finally reaching the toes of her coach waiting for her at the other end.
The Aquaknights swam against the Delta Skimmers on Wednesday afternoon after the Press went to print, and return to the pool on Saturday in Martinez, where they'll take on the Martinez Swim Club.
The 'Knights return to friendly waters next Wednesday, June 25, for their Black and Blue Fun Meet, which will pit 'Knight against 'Knight in the lanes, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Heritage High School pool. Admission for the event is free.
For additional information about the Aquaknights, visit www.aquaknights.com.