"The meet is mainly for age group swimmers 5-14, but some local high school swimmers are competing for a chance to either improve times from high school state and regional competition or to swim other events that are not swum during high school season," said Scott Griffith, GSC head coach. Griffith joined the GSC team as head coach in 2004.
The pool was bustling with excited swimmers, coaches, family members and friends. The atmosphere, although a bit chaotic at times, was extremely positive. Shouts went up from the audience as they rooted for the competitors. Swimmers lined the pool, encouraging their teammates, many of which had written different cheers and sayings on their backs and arms.
"The writing is to support your team and to cheer them on," said Rachelle Roldan, a 10-year-old GSC member. Roldan is one of the 170 participants of the ABC Invitational and has been swimming since she was three. This is her second year on the Glacier Swim Club.
"We're here to try and improve our times and to qualify for other meets," Roldan said. "This is the last 'tune-up' competition for GSC swimmers, as we prepare for our first championship meet of the year, De.c 1-3 in Soldotna (Age Group Champs)."
The Glacier Swim Club has quite a busy schedule, requiring a large commitment on the part of the swimmers.
"We practice every day except Sundays, and on Saturdays I have to wake up at 5 a.m. to be in the pool by 6 a.m.," said Tyler Mickelson, who is in the eighth grade at Floyd Dryden Middle School. Like many GSC participants, Mickelson got an early start to his swimming career at the age of five.
"I like the feeling of the water, and also having a place to socialize so you can make more friends," Mickelson said. Swimming can be a rewarding activity on many levels, Coach Griffith said. Swimming, like other sports provides not only physical benefits, but also offers students with a positive social environment.
"It's a second family," said Griffith.
While at practice the swimmers learn many life lessons.
"It teaches children the value of failure and that you may not always succeed. It also teaches hard work and perseverance," he said. In addition, Griffith said that the most rewarding part of coaching is "seeing children set goals and achieve them."
Last weekend's meet showed just how hard these swimmers worked and how it pays off. Ciera Kelly broke two records during the ABC Invitational, Lindsay Clark's 2002 record of 6:50.80 in the 500 free with the time of 6:30.81, and also Jenna Rutecki's 2001 record of 1:16.92 with the time of 1:16.67.