Swimming with the dolfins

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photo by Bailey Fisher

Sophomore Julia Plescha competes in in the 100 meter breaststroke. Plescha has been swimming with the Blue Dolfins since she was in fifth grade.

Alex Konvalina

The ultimate dream for any swimmer is to have a shot at the Olympics and last summer, the Oviedo-based Blue Dolphins swim team sent four people to the Olympic trials. Their intense training schedule, most people on the team have been competing for over 10 years.

The Blue Dolfins swim team was established in 1972 by Harry Meisel. They originated in Winter Park, moving the group to Oviedo in 1993 and producing great swimmers since. They have levels ranging from flippers to national group. Charlie Rose and Eric Christensen coach the competitive swimmers.

Senior group is the second highest level and most high-school aged swimmers are in this group. This essentially prepares for a future in swimming, and practices are six times a week, sometimes twice a day, for two to three hours per day.

Swimming requires a lot of time and hark work. Vigorous practices and 6 a.m. swim meets are just the start. But the work does come with rewards: it helps athletes stay in shape and creates many lasting friendships.

“I swim because I enjoy challenging myself and pushing my limits,” sophomore Julia Plescha said. “It’s something I really enjoy doing and want to improve in.”

Plescha has been swimming with the Blue Dolfins since she was in fifth grade and hopes to continue through high school and college.

“I’m dedicated because I want to swim in a DI college, which requires a lot of hard work,” senior John Fulginiti said.

He is currently swimming in the Blue Dolfins senior group and on the school’s swim team. Many Blue Dolfins swimmers also swim on their school team for extra practice and for the opportunity to be spotted by colleges.

The goal for most of the senior group is to swim in a DI college and possibly in the Olympics. Over the summer Ashely Boddiford, Zach Poti, Cole Hensley, and Alex Kimpel competed in the 2016 Olympic Trials. Boddiford, a senior has been swimming since she was three. At the trials, she swam the 200-meter backstroke and finished in 100th place out of all swimmers in the nation. She competed against Olympians Missy Franklin and Elizabeth Biesel.

The team participates in both regional, state and national meets. Their most important meet is the Junior Nationals, which brings the fastest swimmers aged 12-21 together. This meet is the highest level swimming competition before college programs and the Olympics.

“It’s a great sport for me because I like the individual aspect, I also just really like winning races.” Fulginiti said.

The coaches are very strict, resulting in more serious and independent athletes. Hard practices and early start times teach the swimmers discipline and respect.

“I can’t imagine who I would be without swim,” junior Kaitlyn Reeves said, “Blue Dolfins has shaped me and so many of my friendships.”

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