About 200 St. Petersburg children will trade schoolbooks for a kickboard this summer. The youths will hit the water this afternoon as the first practices for the 1991 city swim league kick off at five local pools. Coaches say turnout for registration Friday was a little slow, but they expect the numbers to double once the league gets into full swing over the next week.
"We're planning "bring a friend day' Friday," said first-time Shore Acres coach Nancy Kiernan, who has worked with adult teams before but not a competitive children's group. "I'm excited about working with the kids. Twenty-seven have signed up so far, and I'm planning on focusing a lot on stroke technique and development. Hopefully, we'll have everyone swimming correct strokes at the end of the season."
At Fossil Park, 44 kids from 4 years old to 20 want to brave the water. Coach Kristen Cohen said the numbers might be a little low because Fossil offered only morning practices last year. This summer Cohen plans morning and afternoon practices.
"Right now I have 22 boys and 22 girls, about half who have swum before and half whose names are new, so it should be a great season. I want to make this fun as well as competition, and I plan to recognize the hardest worker of the week and a swimmer of the week with small awards."
Other pools participating in the youth league are Walter Fuller, Northwest, and Lake Vista. Registration is continuous at each pool throughout the summer. For more information, please contact St. Petersburg Aquatics director Fred Lewis, at 821-2918.
Some year-round swimmers recently put in a little extra training as seven Pinellas youths attended the United States Swimming National Age Group Camp at the Orlando International Aquatic Center.
Fifty swimmers, ages 11-13, were chosen from Florida to participate. Four of the youths are St. Petersburg Aquatics swimmers Mike Moore, Gretchen Herbst, Dan Garrison, and Will LeBas. John Manning and Gris Fig of West Florida Lightning and Monica Williams of the Safety Harbor Gators also attended the camp.
Participants were chosen based on age and their performances at the 1991 Short Course Junior Olympics this spring. The campers trained in the water and in the classroom. Sessions were provided on nutrition, personal goals, and time management.
Congratulations are in order for two St. Petersburg teen-agers who were named "Swimmers of the month" in the June issue of Swimming World: Dustin Bengston, 14, a sophomore at Boca Ciega High, and Jason Eaddy, a tenth-grader in the International program at St. Petersburg High.
Also featured is this month's issue in another Florida swimmer who got her start in the city swim league in St. Petersburg. World record-breaker Nicole Haislett is on the cover of this month's magazine. Haislett is a sophomore at the University of Florida.