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SWIM MEET

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Peachtree Corners Swim Team
Peachtree Corners Swim Meet at the Riverfield Swimming pool Friday May 17, 2019, in Peachtree Corners, Ga. (photos by JASON GETZ/Getz Images)

A Summer of Rivalries, Friendships & Family

The start of summer can be marked by a handful of familiar sounds: water splashing, kids squealing from the chilly temperatures, coaches’ whistles, parents hustling and that infamous heat-opening honk. Yes, it’s time for summer swim team.

Peachtree Corners is fielding five teams, together including hundreds of swimmers, for the Gwinnett Swim League’s competitive — but still fun — Western Division.

Bragging rights, along with a sportsmanship award and invitations to the county meet, are on the line for the Fields Club, the Rapid Barracudas, the Peachtree Corners WaveRunners, Peachtree Station Piranhas and Spalding Corners Sharks, along with the Berkeley Hills Barracudas from Duluth.

For Susan Brooks, Peachtree Station’s head coach, there is no better way to spend Thursday nights in the summer than when the people of the community draw her back to the pool year after year.

“If I didn’t love y’all, I wouldn’t keep doing this,” Brooks said as she prepared for her 20th swim team season.

Brooks was not alone in her sentiments, which echoed across teams and generations in Peachtree Corners. Many swimmers now in high school recalled fond memories of starting swim team in their early elementary school days. Swimmers evolve and grow, becoming junior coaches and mentors to their peers. Some even become head coaches.

“I’m looking forward to bringing the experience and enthusiasm that helped me stick with swim team all these years,” said Colton Kryski, who started swimming with the Rapid Barracudas about 14 years ago. He is now entering his inaugural season as the team’s head coach. “I hope to leave something behind that will stay past my years as coach.”

Cover Photo by JASON GETZ/Getz Images)

“The rivalries are more for the kids,” said Jessica Sapough, the registrar for the Peachtree Corners WaveRunners. “Peachtree Corners is like a small town, so you have a meet with 350 kids, but all the kids go to the same school or are friends with the kids they’re swimming against.”


Jessica Sapough
Peachtree Corners WaveRunners

Friendly competition

Spalding Corners has recently dominated the swimming landscape in Peachtree Corners: Over the last six seasons, the team has amassed a 36-0 record under co-coaches Willie Hildebrand and Kailyn Dunn.

But for many in the area, even the coaches, the sport is more about personal bests and camaraderie. It’s made possible, in part, because the neighborhoods are so close together geographically, with five of the division’s six teams sharing a ZIP code.

“The rivalries are more for the kids,” said Jessica Sapough, the registrar for the Peachtree Corners WaveRunners. “Peachtree Corners is like a small town, so you have a meet with 350 kids, but all the kids go to the same school or are friends with the kids they’re swimming against.”

Coaches said their top priorities for swimmers were to see improvement in the pool and in the kids’ confidence. Nothing, they said, beats the joy of watching young swimmers sharpen their strokes, or the celebration of a relay team that crushed its record.

“It’s just as good to watch the 4- and 5-year-old make it across the pool for the first time as it is to watch a kid going off on a college scholarship and Olympic trials,” Sapough said.

Community wide

Swim season is more than a series of summer meets; planning for the teams starts as early as January, long before people are even thinking about getting in the water, and Gwinnett Swim League requires more volunteers than many others.

“It doesn’t work without the parent volunteers,” said Melanie Willenborg, team manager for the Fields Club. “They’re the key element to make the whole team experience flow: the starter, the timers, bullpen volunteers and so much more.”

Jason Erb (Photo Courtesy Wesleyan School)

Jason Erb, head coach of the Field Club and Lower School Principal at Wesleyan School, said he would love to see the former swim team parents come back and be involved. Even though their kids are grown, he hoped they might like to volunteer again and reinvest in the community where they have fond family memories.

And for new families, the swim season can be a valuable way to quickly plug into the community. Come summer, it’s often a safe bet that neighbors with kids will be at a meet on a Thursday night. Those nights often give way to a common bond among families as they cheer on each other’s kids, summer after summer.

“It’s like a giant tailgate party for kids,” Sapough said. “They’re eating candy and sitting on towels hanging out and doing their thing, and then they go swim. What’s not to like?”

Character building

Parents and coaches alike see swim team as one of the most valuable ways for children to spend their summers. Not only are the kids learning a skill that could prove life-saving, they’re getting exercise, hanging out with kids of all ages, contributing to a team and developing the talents that can improve their performances.

“Our mission is to build community and character through competitive swimming,” said Erb, adding that he focuses on resilience and overcoming hurdles through hard work and self-improvement.

Those lessons go beyond the pool, but so does the talk about sportsmanship and swimming etiquette.

“We encourage our swimmers to stay on the pool deck until all relays are finished and stay in the water until the race is over and shake hands afterward,” said Spalding Corners co-coach Dunn.

As the swimmers age through the program, there are also opportunities for them to mentor the younger kids and become junior coaches, offering new ways to grow and be challenged.

“We want to make every kid feel important,” Hildebrand said. “We want to make the pool a second home to them. The swimming will go, but it’s the memories of having fun that will go beyond.”

Fun for the whole family

Unlike most youth sports, age and gender matter only so much.

“Swim team is an equalizer because a 5- or 6-year-old can earn just as many points for a team as an 18-year-old about to go D-1,” said Kryski. “It’s a good environment for the older kids to set a good example for the younger ones and push them to be better.”

For year-round swimmers, the summer league is a chance to cut loose while staying in shape. But for many families, swim team is about participating in a sport that celebrates individual and group efforts — while adding in the fun of obstacle courses, greased watermelons, parent relays and occasional pie-ings of the coaches.

“It’s great to win,” Brooks said, “but it’s more fun to enjoy the spirit of the team and the cheers.” ■

(Photos by JASON GETZ/Getz Images)

Correction: The print edition had Swimmer Profile for Emma Fass in correctly noted as Emma Sass. We apologize for the error.

Meredith Blinder is a Realtor with RE/MAX Around Atlanta and a native of Peachtree Corners. When she’s not serving her clients, Meredith enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and trying out all of our community’s great restaurants.

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Community

Yoga on the Green

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Join us for Yoga on the Green every Tuesday at 8am – extended through September 24! Everyone from brand new beginners to experienced yogis are welcome to this FREE class taught by Sun Dragon Yoga. After class wind down and relax with light snacks provided by the Sleep Number.

What to Bring:

Water (no glass containers), a small towel, and a mat if you have one.

What to Wear:

Comfortable clothes that allow a full range of motion. Consider a close-fitting shirt, or a shirt that can be tucked in. Loose shirts float up on forward bends and get in the way of your practice. Come in whatever shoes you would like, as practice will be done in your bare feet.

Learn more about Sun Dragon Yoga at www.sundragonyoga.com 

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PCBA Business Networking & Appetizers

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Anderby Brewing
Thursday, Sept 26, 2019
5:30 – 7:30 pm

Register Online

Please join PCBA on Thursday, September 26th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm

PCBA is excited to have an evening of business networking and fantastic appetizers!

PCBA will also be awarding a check to honor those who protect and serve our community.  

Come for the networking, have fun and see how PCBA impacts our community!

Event Registration – $30

Member Advance Registration – $20 – (registration thru Sept 20, 2019)
Guest Advance Registration – $25 – (registration thru Sept 20, 2019)

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Community

September is National Yoga Month

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September is National Yoga Month, so Live Healthy Gwinnett has arranged for free, outdoor yoga sessions at eight Parks and Recreation sites next month.

Certified instructors will teach the classes, and all skill levels are welcome. Just bring a mat, towel, water bottle, and a friend. Locations include Vines, Alexander, Ronald Reagan, McDaniel Farm, Simpsonwood, Freeman’s Mill Park, Little Mulberry Park, and the Gwinnett Historic Courthouse. Preregistration is not required. For more details and to view the full month’s schedule, click here.

SUNDAY

7:00am – 8:00am
Vines Park
3500 Oak Grove Road, Loganville

TUESDAY

7:00pm – 8:00pm
Alexander Park
800 Old Snellville Highway, Lawrenceville

Ronald Regan Park
September 3 & 17 ONLY
2777 Five Forks-Trickum Road, Lawrenceville

Yoga on the Green – at Town Center in Peachtree Corners
Every Tuesday at 8 am – extended through September 24! Everyone from brand new beginners to experienced yogis is welcome to this FREE class taught by Sun Dragon Yoga. After class wind down and relax with light snacks provided by the Sleep Number. For more information click here.

WEDNESDAY

Toddler & Me
Ages 5 – under with adult
10:00am – 11:00am
McDaniel Farm Park
3020 McDaniel Road, Duluth

THURSDAY

7:00am – 8:00am and 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Simpsonwood Park
4511 Jones Bridge Circle, Peachtree Corners

SATURDAY

7:00am – 8:00am
Freeman’s Mill Park
1401 Alcovy Road, Lawrenceville

7:30am – 8:30am
Little Mulberry Park
3800 Hog Mountain Road, Dacula

10:30am – 11:30am
Gwinnett Historic Courthouse
185 Crogan Street, Lawrenceville
September 28 ONLY

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