ODAC swimmers improve

Published 9:25 pm Thursday, July 26, 2012

Old Dominion Aquatic Club swimmers Logan Eubanks, Brandon Eubanks and Julia Heriford hold the club’s banner. All three have improved their swimming times dramatically since moving to the club last year.

By Titus Mohler
Correspondent

When the Suffolk YMCA discontinued its Gators swim team at the end of last summer, Logan Eubanks and six other local kids joined the Old Dominion Aquatic Club (ODAC) and have all shown dramatic improvement within the last year.

Melissa Eubanks has two children on the year-around ODAC team.

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Logan, 14, and Brandon, 11, who have each been swimming for two years. She estimates that there were 60 children on the Gators, and many of them dropped out of swimming after the team was discontinued.

A handful of them, however, joined ODAC and in a matter of months Eubanks could not have been happier with the results.

“And after seeing the improvement in my kids for swimming since September,” she said, “it is the best thing for my kids and I can guarantee all the other parents would say the same thing for their kids.

I mean, they’re not even the same kids as they were at the Y.”

In a sport where improving one’s event time by even a single second can be significant, these seven kids made impressive progress.

Logan swam the 100-yard freestyle back in November in a time of 1:05.2. By February of this year, he had it down to 58.7 seconds. At the end of this summer, he was swimming the long course version of the same event, which is 100 meters rather than yards, and he recorded a 1:02.7 time.

In the 200-yard freestyle, his November time was 2:25, and in February he did it in 2:09. He swam the long course version — 200 meters — this summer and recorded a time of 2:20.

Ten-year old Anna Paisley Gray shaved ten seconds off her time in the 100-yard freestyle, posting a 1:33.8 in December and a 1:23.7 this February.

Johnny Gray, 8, swam the 100 short course meter individual medley in 2:02 in December. When February came, he brought it down to 1:55.9.

Their ODAC coach Karen Keenan said watching the improvement is most rewarding part of her job.

“It’s really neat to see actually how quickly they’ve improved because at some point that’s going to slow down a little bit just because they’ve started to do the training that they need, to make the corrections they need.”

When Eubanks asked her kids what helped them develop so quickly, they pointed to what they learned from Coach Keenan.

“They said learning technique,” Eubanks said. “The technique that Karen taught them is day and night from what they swam last year.”

“You get kids that, like, let me say, kick from their knees in freestyle or in butterfly and even backstroke and they have to learn how to kick from their hip,” Keenan said. “With some of these guys, flip turns, just knowing how to get in and off the walls was a big thing. I did a lot of working with breaststroke, just making sure that they were gliding and learning underwater pull-outs off the walls.”

Increasing the distance they swam during practice and practicing consistently were also key. The Eubanks attend practice five times a week, and dedication on the part of the kids and parents had been foundational to making their kind of progress in swimming.

“They got home from school, and within an hour we were gone to go to practice,” Eubanks said. “I sat there for one practice, and then one finished, and then the next one. And for them to want to do that every day — they never tell me, ‘I don’t want to go to practice’ — is a lot.”

Thirteen-year old Julia Heriford posted a 1:15 time in the 100-yard freestyle in January. The very next month she knocked it down to 1:11. Her November time for the 200-yard freestyle was 2:53 and in February she took 10 seconds off that time.

Logan recorded times in three different events that qualified him to compete in the 2012 Long Course Age Group Championships for ages 14-and-under that took place this past weekend.

“If I told him he was going to go to Age Group Championships (back) in September,” his mother said, “he would have been like, ‘No,’ because it’s such a high level to get to it.”

His improvement continued at the event itself.

“He actually dropped more time in his 100 (backstroke) and he dropped more time in his 50 (freestyle),” Keenan said.

Back in November, he swam the 100-yard backstroke in 1:13.8, but at the championships he swam the long course 100 meter backstroke in a time of 1:12.8.

Logan, Anna, Johnny and Julia were examples of what all seven swimmers accomplished, including Brandon Eubanks, 8-year old Brynn Starks, and 6-year old Phoebe Gray.

ODAC holds team practices at the Suffolk YMCA’s Camp Arrowhead facility on Kenyon Road. They will also be holding tryouts at that location from 7-8 p.m. on Aug. 22-23, 27-29, and Sept. 5-6.