This keeps them from being fish out of water. • Middle school-aged kids at the James P. Gills Family YMCA are part of the branch's swim team, basically a developmental team that competes against other developmental teams from fellow local YMCAs during the summer.
"Most of the kids come here from (other) swim lessons," coach Danielle Petika said. "So they come here to learn and how to understand the techniques. They learn the basics, then learn the advanced techniques for the future."
Petika knows a thing or two about swimming. A four-year swimmer for Mitchell High, which is just a stone's throw away from this YMCA, Petika, who graduated in 2007, knows that swimming competitively, if anything, requires practice before moving on to the next level.
"We have a lot of different age groups and styles for experience," Petika said, "and some of them are a little rocky, but it helps them improve their strength and conditioning."
Right now, the team is just swimming laps in the pool, improving themselves during the fall/winter offseason. Eventually, however, many of these kids plan on swimming in high school.
But they have to start somewhere.
"All these kids came in and didn't have any of these friends and now they work with each other and they build who they are," Petika said. "We even have some kids who have high energy and they use this swimming to channel that into swimming."