Craig Sea Sharks season underway | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig Sea Sharks season underway

Nate Waggenspack

Aside from conditioning and camps, the summer is time off for most sports in Craig, but for the Sea Sharks swimming team, summer is when the season gets going.

The team, composed of about 60 children (up slightly from last year) from Craig and the surrounding area, including a couple members from Wyoming this year, is in its third week of practice, with the first meet of the season coming up this weekend.

With swimmers ages 5 to 18 on the team, the range of swimming knowledge and capability is wide during any season, but especially at the beginning.

"We've got some that just came out of the state swimming and are in great shape. They're ready to go," coach Meghan Francone said. "And others who haven't swam before or haven't swam since last summer. It's a huge range of different skill levels."

Joe Neal, 10, is in his first year with the team. An active athlete throughout the year, he's been enjoying learning the ropes of swimming.

"Mostly so far we've been doing the different strokes," Joe said. "The coaches have been breaking it down to drills, then we put all those drills together into the full stroke. We've been learning starts, pretty much everything."

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The work done by the Sea Sharks in their first couple of weeks has been focused on base building and — for less-experienced swimmers — stroke technique, as well, Francone said. Coaches have tried to introduce every swimmer to all four strokes right away, so kids can figure out which events they would like to focus on.

"We've been doing a different stroke each day in practice," said Wyatt Mortensen, 11. "So one day is butterfly, another will be freestyle, another is backstroke."

The team is preparing for its first meet, the Jeffco Invitational from Friday through Sunday. In past seasons, the Sea Sharks have spent more of their time on the Western Slope going to meets, but the Rangely meet that usually opens their season wasn't scheduled this summer, so they're taking advantage of the opportunity to go to a bigger meet on the Front Range.

"When Rangely wasn't happening, we knew we needed to get this kids in a competition," Francone said. "So we're trying to see more, different competition this year."

Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.