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THE POOL’S REALLY COOL IN PARK CITY

SHARE THE POOL’S REALLY COOL IN PARK CITY

It is a brilliant day as coach Gail Meakins supervises her swim team. Overhead, the sky is an intense shade of blue, not a cloud is in sight and the glare coming off the pool is blinding. It is rather quiet as the swimmers, tan from the sun and intent on their workout, traverse the pool, up and back, up and back.

A swimmer suddenly gets out and deftly hip hops his way to the locker room. Meakins watches nervously and then blurts out, "Ice, ice, ice! Be careful!"Ice? Well, it is the first of February.

While most high school swim teams are working out in the relative comfort of an indoor pool, the Park City High School swim team is outside braving blizzards and frigid temperatures.

Formed four years ago when Meakins and several parents petitioned the school district for a swim team, Park City has never had the luxury of an indoor pool. "It doesn't seem to hurt us," Meakins good-naturedly says of the situation. "But it does make us unusual,"she adds.

The high school swimming program certainly doesn't seem to be suffering from the unorthodox situation and has been expanding every year. When the team was first formed, Meakins says she only had 17 swimmers. Now, four years later, that number has grown to more than 40.

Team captain J.J. Krieger, who has swam all four years, says it has been "fun to see how much better and bigger we've gotten."

Krieger reports that her first year, the team "was really bad," but it has greatly improved. Last year, the girls' team placed second to Cedar City at the 3A state championship, and two weeks before the state meet was ranked first.

Meakins is hopeful about her girls' team's chances of winning state this year. "The girls are really strong . . . closer than ever to Cedar City," she states.

At the region meet last week, both the boys and girls teams took first.

According to Meakins, the team is "like most swimmers, a pretty disciplined group of kids." Both teams work hard, attending two-hour workouts six days a week. Meakins says they used to work out in the morning before school, but it just got too cold in November.

Amazingly, the team really doesn't make too many modifications to swim outside and doesn't seem to suffer too much from the cold.

Meakins reports they can't practice starts, they don't do a lot of kicking and they must swim continuously so they won't get too cold. She says the average pool temperature is about 81 degrees, but the swimmers still suffer a bit from the cold, especially if the pool is just a few degrees colder. "Some of them can be pretty blue when they get out," she says.

Krieger reports that the hardest thing about swimming outside is getting in, "Once you get going you're all right."

In fact, according to team captain Seth Williams, the swimmers don't have it too bad. "Gail definitely takes it the worse," he says.

Although Meakins may feel the weather the most, her swimmers definitely experience the out-of-the-ordinary.

Sophomore Rebecca Gerber says that bare feet stick to the ice as they walk to the pool, and hands stick to the metal railings and door knobs. Towels and pull buoys freeze, and icicles hang off the starting blocks. And of course, there is always the risk of slipping on the ice.

According to Williams, one swimmer slipped on the ice, fell and got cut so badly he had to get stitches. The swimmers, however, continue to prey on Meakins' fears of them falling by pretending to slip going to and from the pool.

But in spite of the inconveniences, the Park City swimmers are enthusiastic about the program.

"It's cold but really worth it," says freshman Courtney Colvin. "It's cool; I love it," adds Stacey Brewster, also a freshman.

When asked if they were going to stick it out all four years, both immediately claimed, "Yes, definitely."