New Zionsville Summer Swim League gets off to successful start
By Mark Ambrogi
The Zionsville Summer Swim League is giving parents and their children a chance to test the competitive waters and learn some swimming skills.
“It’s one of the biggest sports we have in Zionsville so (parents) like getting their kids involved and see how much they enjoy it before they are able to be on a pretty competitive team or the school team,” said Melissa Tuttila, who is helping run the new league. “It’s given them a chance to bond with the community and see how much interest their child has in swimming. We’re getting feedback that they like that we’re trying to expand the swimming community and build a bigger swim interest within Zionsville.”
The league, which includes teams from four neighborhood pools and a team from the Zionsville Aquatic Center, began June 15 and ends with a season-ending meet at the Aquatic Center on July 24. Ribbons will be awarded along with prizes for first and second place.
“We didn’t put an age (restriction) on it, it’s if you can swim the length or the width of the pool,” said Tuttila, a Universal pre-school teacher for Boone Meadow Elementary. “Our youngest is 5 and I believe our oldest is 16.”
Tuttila, a 26-year-old former Westfield High School swimmer, and Alexandra Brownell, a Noblesville High School teacher, are running the league as Aquatic Center director Lisa Brown is on leave from the Center this season. Tuttila also serves as Rock Bridge head coach.
Ainsley McCune, 6, is a member of the Rock Bridge team.
“We’ve already seen an improvement in her stroke and her endurance has really increased as well,” said her mother Jill McCune. “It’s a great way to get the kids exposed to competitive swimming but making it fun at an early age. It’s a full hour of instruction and practicing strokes.”
Ainsley learned to swim between the ages 3 and 4. McCune said she learned about the swim league during the Swim into Kindergarten program after school at the Aquatic Center.
McClure said she hopes her son Collin, 3, will be able compete when he’s old enough.
Jason Butts’ 5 1/2-year-old daughter Teel also competes on the Rock Bridge squad.
“She was a decent swimmer going into it,” said Butts, who was a high school swimmer in the Boston area. “The practices have been very well structured. They’ve really challenged the kids and within just two weeks she’s grown tremendously. For most of the kids it’s their first foray into actual practices and competitiveness.”
Teel has been taking lessons from her father and another instructor for about 2 1/2 years.
“It’s great to have a grass roots program in Zionsville,” Butts said. “The nice thing is because it’s kind of an introduction to swimming it’s not as intense competitively as Zionsville Swim Club. It’s a nice entry-way into swimming.”
Tuttila said most parents seem to be pleased with the direction.
“We’ve also gotten some feedback from parents that it’s a great summer activity to get their kids outside and building friendships,” Tuttila said. “We’re making some positive connections with the community and trying to build family connections.”
Participants vary ability-wise
There is a wide range of ability among the league swimmers.
“We have some that are just learning how to kick and use their strokes and others that have already competed on a team before,” Tuttila said. “The kiddos who have already been on a team or are more experienced help the little kids who aren’t very experienced.”
In addition to the Rock Bridge Ribbits, the other teams are the Stonegate Sharks, Austin Oaks Otters, Royal Run Rolling Riptides and Zionsville Aquatic Center Silver Tornados. Coached practices are three to four times per week. Tuttila said there are about 60 total participants.
Swimmers must reside in the neighborhood of the team they are joining and show proof of residency. The Aquatics Center team is designed for those who don’t live in one of those neighborhoods.
The cost for the program was $100 for the first child and $85 for the second child. For three or more children it is $80 each.
For more information, visit aquatic.zionsvilleeaglerec.com/zionsville-summer-swim-league_-zssl.cfm.