As many fall sports, such as football and volleyball, draw to a close, the youth swim season at the Muscatine Community Y (the Y) has just gotten underway. With rookie and try-out weeks coming up from October 14th through the 24th, and the first official practice happening on October 28th, young swimmers across the region can already feel the excitement. As the Manta Rays (formerly the Muscatine Swim Club) prepare to take to the water, coach Jocelyn Paxton encourages people to take a closer look at this unique sport.
Each year, the Manta Rays welcomes swimmers ages five through eighteen years old to join, train, and compete with them. Divided into three age groups (five to eight, nine to ten, and eleven to eighteen) Paxton says prospective team members do not need to have competitive swim experience to join, but that they must demonstrate certain swimming skills, which coaches will test them for during rookie and try-out weeks. Swimmers must also have a current Y membership, complete an application form, and pay their team fees on time.
For those who decide to take the plunge (quite literally) and join the Manta Rays, they can expect to take part in several practices per week, allowing them and their teammates to learn new strokes and improve their times over the course of the fall and winter. Paxton detailed, “practices vary based on the age group but are offered between four and five days a week. Workouts are planned according to the age, skills, and ability of the swimmers. For regular improvement, swimmers are strongly encouraged to attend a minimum of three to four practices per week.”
In addition to regular practices, Manta Rays’ swimmers can take their sport to the next level by competing in several swim meets over the course of the season. Though swimmers do not need to participate in meets, Paxton highly encourages it. “They are the best way for the swimmers, parents, and coaches to gauge progress,” she asserted.
More than just learning techniques and competing, Paxton encourages kids to consider swimming because it introduces them to an activity they can enjoy for their whole life and will always challenge them to take their individual skills to the next level. As Paxton put it, “swimming is a lifelong sport and is unique in that everyone gets to participate. . . It’s also very individualized. While swimming does have the team aspect, it focuses on the individual and their achievements. . .. With [Y] swimming it’s not always about being the fastest or the best, but did you try something new, did you improve from what you did the time before, and did you have fun?”
If you would like to find out more about the Manta Rays swim team and could not come to last week’s parent meetings, Paxton invites you to email her at [email protected], or to stop into the Y. Though registration officially finishes October 10th, Paxton will still happily answer questions for any prospective swimmers.