It’s a cold 35-degree February morning around 4 a.m. when swimmers on the Piranha Swim Club dive into the water at Honey Bee Pool in Rohnert Park for their last practice before a big championship swim meet called Lost Dutchman Invitational in Chambers Arizona.
The club has been traveling by bus to the giant swim meet for a number of years and the meet features excellent swimmers from clubs all over the West Coast and South West.
A luxury charter bus pulls up and after a short practice the team loads up for a 16- hour ride to the championship meet. Once the bus is loaded with gear the swimmers get on board with fully charged I -pads, tablets and phones for the long ride. The first stop is Vallejo where the club picks up members of Vallejo Aquatics and the kids meet old friends and embark on making some new ones. A beautiful ride through the Central Valley highlights flowering fruit trees and early signs of spring. By 4 p.m. the bus hits Los Angeles traffic and six hours later the kids arrive in the Phoenix area.
The Rohnert Park Piranhas and Vallejo Aquatics clubs had 38 swimmers attending the meet with ages ranging from 9-18. All of the events are covered in the large meet in two competition pools. The meet attracts some of the best swimmers on the West Coast and popular events had over two hundred entries each.
Friday is the first day of the swim meet. The teams start by setting up day camps for the four-day event equipped with EZ ups, coolers of food, chairs blankets and all things swimming. The swimmers start their warm-ups in one of the three outdoor 10- lane pools. The warm-up lanes had about 15-20 kids in each lane warming up for their big events. There are about 500-600 kids splashing and swimming while coaches, parents and officials scramble to get ready for the competition to begin.
The teams had to arrive at the pool for warm-ups at 7:30 a.m. each day. Most of the kids had between three to four swims daily. The top kids in each event went on to the finals. The finals were in the afternoon and the qualifiers had to swim their events again. A number of swimmers qualified for finals from each team and this is a great achievement in such an intense field of competition.
Four days of intense swimming competition and a 100 percent focus on swimming the kids loaded up the bus for the long ride back to Vallejo and Rohnert Park. A driver switch around midnight at the Grapevine in Southern California the kids boarded the bus again for the final portion of the trip. Everyone fell asleep and woke up to the rising sun in Vallejo just in time for school.
The Rohnert Park Piranhas Swim Club is an excellent way to provide a rich, rewarding, fun and healthy activity for kids to become fit and focused athletes in the sport of swimming. Currently they are offering swimming lessons for new swimmers and accepting qualified swimmers for age group competition. Please call 707 794-1260 or Check Piranha Swimming at Team Unify .com for more information.