Tiger Sharks hold first practice of summer

Published 10:14 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Members of the Troy Tiger Sharks swim team swim during practice at the Troy Parks and Recreation Center in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, May 30, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

By Andy Simmons

Summer time has officially arrived, which means a plethora of sunshine, cookouts and of course, plenty of time in the pool.

A number of Troy adolescents, though, will be spending an abnormally longer amount of time splish-splashing in the pool.

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These kids are members of the Troy Parks and Recreation Tiger Sharks swim team, who held their first practice Wednesday at the Parks and Recreation Center.

The program is run by long time head coach Shane Tatum, who is back at the helm after taking a year off to “recharge”.

Tatum began to run the program while he was in school at Troy University in 1995. After an eight-year stint in Eufaula, He returned to Troy in 2005 where he has overseen the program ever since then.

“I don’t really know what we have this year, being our first practice.” Tatum said.

“Our first meet is June 9, so once we get that out of the way, I’ll have a better understanding where we’re at as a team.”

Tatum has a strong knowledge of swimming and what it takes to be successful at such an amateur level, recognizing that it is an individual sport more than team.

“You’re not racing against somebody else per say, you’re racing against the clock.” Tatum said.

“Whoever has the best time wins the race, so what I always try to stress is always do better than the time you were seeded in and if you do that, you’re going to be a winner. Regardless of what the results are at the end of the race, if you swim faster than the time I put you in, you’re a winner in my book.”

Tatum has a long time to work with these kids, almost the entire summer to be exact. He has roughly 30 kids under the wings of his three coaches, who each mentor their respective age groups. He also realizes that despite that this is a recreational league, there is still an urgency to compete.

“Our summer program is from May 1st to August 1st, so we have a lot of catching up to do compared to other teams” Tatum said.

“I think it is more inner competitiveness than that overall team competitiveness.”

But whether success or suffering during the season, Tatum only wishes for one thing from these kids: Have fun.

“Yes it is very taxing. You swim everyday. You don’t get to see too much, but at the end of the day I think it is rewarding that you can accomplish something at a meet. [I want] for them kids to have fun. Everything else will take care of itself.”

The Tiger Sharks first meet is June 9. Their first meet in Troy is June 16.