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Bloom-Carroll swim team continues to grow

Newcomers, 14 in all, join squad for reasons such as competing, just staying in shape

12:00 AM, Dec. 03, 2012 EST

In 2010, Jay Mattlin began coaching a team of just eight Bloom-Carroll swimmers. Now in his third year, the team is three times as large.

The 2012 squad is up to 24 students and Mattlin attributes the growth, in part, to the sports welcoming nature.

"Everybody finds swimming fun, it's a fun, competitive sport," he said. "I have kids this year who have never played another sport in their life and they are really enjoying it. You don't have to be an amazing swimmer already to be on the high school swim team."

Bloom-Carroll lost just five of its 15 swimmers from last year's team. The wealth of novices -- 14 in all -- has affected how Mattlin structures practice. So far this season, he has allowed his returning swimmers to execute a prescribed workout on their own while he helps his the newcomers learn proper technique for different strokes, he said.

Bloom-Carroll Athletic Director Chad Little said he couldn't identify a clear reason for the growth, but could divide the team into two groups.

"I think it's one of those activities that it is an opportunity to stay in shape and learn something new and they are going to get a chance to compete," Little said. "We have some kids that take it very seriously, and then we have the other sub group that it is an opportunity to stay in shape and be a part of the school."

The fact the swim team does not conduct tryouts or make cuts allows for a range of ability levels. It also allows athletes who participate in multiple sports, a common practice at the modestly-sized school, to use swimming as a way to stay in shape for their other pursuits. Mattlin said he has several soccer players this season and has had baseball players in previous years.

"What several of them are learning is being in swim shape is completely different than being in shape for other sports," he said. "It does keep you in shape, but it's a whole different form of athleticism."

Now three years into the job, Mattlin said he suspects the growth has neared it's plateau. Although he thinks some of his swimmers can make the state meet, he has more modest goals for the rest of the team.

"My expectations for my first-year swimmers are just that they get something out of it," Mattlin said. "My goal for a lot of them is just to do as well as they can and be competitive against the other schools."






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