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Summer swim, a time for mentorship and improvement

Coach Josh Norman provides instruction during a summer workout on July 13. PHOTO BY JEFF HARRISON

By Jeff Harrison

Summer workouts come with plenty of sunshine for Mid-Del swimmers.

The team has continued its tradition of summer workouts at Eagle Harbor Aquatic Center in Del City. They meet four days a week to help mentor newcomers and prepare for the upcoming season.

“I love it because it’s more of an opportunity to build a family,” said Carl Albert senior Ben Sutterfield. “We work on building a swimmer and building a team.”

The team modified its summer practices to better accommodate swimmers of all skill sets. In the past, returning swimmers spent most of the time working with new swimmers. This year, half of the practice is a mentorship program where returning swimmers help newcomers. The rest of the practice, returners and newcomers are split up. 

“The returners have been getting a lot more workout this summer,” said Mid-Del swim coach Josh Norman. “In the past, we’ve spent the full two hours with the mentorship program which is great for the newcomers but not as good for the returners.”

The team has seen greater participation from returning swimmers. They had 25-35 swimmers every day last year, and about 35-45 this summer.  

“The returning swimmers love helping the new kids, but they also want to rev their engine and show up faster in August,” Norman said.

Donna Antonelli, a sophomore at Carl Albert, said summer workouts are beneficial.

“In the summer we go with the flow of things more than in season, but we’re still held accountable, and we still do the work,” she said.

Mid-Del doesn’t have a middle school swimming program. Norman said they need to provide extra help with freshman and newcomers. 

“We pride ourselves on being able to take someone from zero to 60 very quickly,” he said. “And that’s not because their coaches are so outstanding it’s because of their mentorship.”

Cache Burke and Katie Howard are two of the incoming freshmen at Carl Albert. Both are new to the sport. Burke was encouraged by former Carl Albert swimmers and Howard taught herself to swim in her family’s pool. Both enjoy learning and improving this summer.

“It feels like we’re connecting more as a team this summer,” Burke said.

Howard said she’s learning about competitive swimming.

“I found out that my length gives me an advantage as a swimmer,” she said. “People are really encouraging of each other.”

Carl Albert senior Elise Widener believes the summer swimming program helps freshman adjust to high school.

“They get to apply themselves to a new situation and they start believing in themselves,” she said. “People are kind of scare going into high school and this makes them feel more secure.”

Norman has seen a lot of improvement from his returners this summer. Carl Albert lost a lot of star power from last year but has plenty of depth coming back. The boys and girls should have several freshmen make an impact this year.

Carl Albert finished state runner-up in boys and girls last season.

The Titans will be tested this season. Their schedule includes several top schools including Bartlesville, Bixby, Norman, Jenks, Edmond schools, and Altus.

“We were really aggressive in scheduling teams that are going to push us,” Norman said.

Senior Ben Sutterfield will be the anchor of the boys team this year. 

“He’s a super quiet leader. He doesn’t need you to see him lead but he’s working in the background,” Norman said. “He’s very good at subtle conversations, making corrections where kids feel loved and not condescended to.” 

Del City has a couple of swimmers this year. TJ Townsend is the team’s top returner. Norman said they’re still looking for a couple more boys to make a relay. They’re also looking to add some swimmers at Midwest City.

Summer swimming continues until Aug. 1 when they will race the Del City firefighters.

Coach Josh Norman provides instruction during a summer workout on July 13. PHOTO BY JEFF HARRISON

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