It is swim season again and the Kingsbrooke Sea Lions of the Prince William County Swim League have a new coach and high hopes for the 2012 summer swim season.
Head Coach Tessa Jarrett is a graduating senior in marine biology and freshwater ecology at George Mason University. She names swimming as the passion that she built her life around.
Jarrett swam with the Stonewall Swim Club Team since she was 13 years old. That year Jarrett broke her ankle, making it impossible for her participate in most sports. However, since she had always loved hanging out by the pool, she found swimming a perfect fit, and she soon found she excelled at the sport.
“I already knew most of the strokes. I picked it up very quickly, so my parents decided to put me in year round. And because I was home schooled, it was something I could do,” Jarrett said.
Swimming year round allowed Jarrett to build her skill set and competitive spirit. But she also gave back to the the sport and her community. During her high school years, she served as an assistant coach at her old swim club, swam with the Senior Elite group and trained in Curl-Burke under the direction of coach Jeremy Linn.
Jarrett brings her wealth of experience to the Sea Lions. Although this is her first year at Kingsbrooke, she served as a head coach in Curl-Burke for the past two years.
Judging from what she sees of the Sea Lions so far, Jarrett expects them to have a successful season.
“They’ve been a very competitive, very fast team,” Jarrett said.
They are also one of the biggest teams in its league with over 275 member. Only the Braemar Blasters is a larger team in the Bristow/Gainesville/Haymarket area, and they are the Sea Lion’s biggest rivals.
In 2011 the Kingsbrooke Sea Lions remained neck in neck with Braemar. This year Jarrett hopes to swim past them to face a bigger fish,the Sudley Seahorses, number one in the league. However with many new swimmers, that goal will take work and dedication.
But the team is on board. Eight-year-old Brooke Hopkins explains the Sea Lions are coming after Sudley, but first they must leave Braemar in their wake.
“We’re just as good as Braemar,” said Hopkins, who hopes to take them in the backstroke, her favorite event.
“I’ve made first a lot of times in backstroke,” she said.
However on a team including children as young as five and as old as 18, there are bound to be various levels of performances. Thus Jarrett said her primary goal is to see each of her swimmers improve and swim their personal best.
“As much as it’s a team sport, it’s very individual. You’re in a heat with other individuals, but you’re in a race with yourself,” Jarrett said.
Jarrett wants to work with her younger swimmers on improving their form.
“I’m big into avoiding injury, and incorrect technique can also lead to that. I tend to be very conscious with how they look. If you use good technique, you’re going to be quick in the water,” Jarrett said.
She describes the ideal technique in terms of, “big fresh sustained strokes. You want to feel like you’re pushing a lot of water as you’re going by.”
Older athletes, who have mastered the technique, work with younger athletes. They assist Jarrett and her assistant head and two assistant coaches.
It’s a team effort even for coaches, as Jarrett notes that swimming is a fast-growing sport in the area, as most housing developments have pools within the community. She is happy that more children are swimming competitively and hopes more adults will take to the water as well.
“It’s fantastic. The best form of exercise, burning calories and building muscles,” Jarrett said.
Parents in Kingsbrooke agree, as hundreds of them bring their children to practice every day, and spend their Saturday mornings at meets which last for five hours.
“I like it for my kids, because when they’re young it’s a social thing. They meet a lot of kids the same age in the neighborhood,” said Carrie Hilton, “As they get older they start to love it, and you start to love it for them.”
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