The success of the Keller ISD swimming program doesn’t just happen during the school season, and most of the top talent knows this is the time of year to start preparations.
No doubt, many of the experienced swimmers at the area schools are taking advantage of summer club swim teams to build technique and experience.
Coming into the Keller area about six years ago, the Lakeside Aquatic Club, or LAC, has been working with local swimmers from the totally inexperienced to those who have drawn Division I collegiate scholarships.
LAC has been in existence since 1981, originally organized in the Lewisville area as the Lewisville Aquatic Club. It changed the name in about 1999, said LAC’s Keller coach Jason Walter.
“The team has grown from about 75 kids to a strong 350,” Walter said. “We like to start them at a young age,” he added, noting the program has swimmers as young as 4 and up to age 18.
Walter was the Central swim coach for four years before taking on the role with LAC.
“We start with the swim lessons program and let them learn the importance of swimming safety,” Walter said. “We have a rigid curriculum and have seven different groups we take kids through. They’ll learn swimming skills and body position and then learn all four strokes. Then they’ll move into competitive swimming.”
The club team swim season actually started just after spring break and will extend into late July or early August. Walter said interested swimmers – of any skill level – can still contact the team for registration, though.
This year, LAC has been noted as a top 25 team in the national championship rankings for USA Swimming’s Virtual Club Championships. The formula for rankings calculates the top two swimmers in two events for ages 11-18.
Walter said the team will compete in meets about every two or three weeks during the summer season. They recently completed a meet and are now eying a Pro-Am event as part of the club’s new pool opening for their Flower Mound operation.
“We’re really excited to kick off the new facility and bring in some pros from around the country,” Walter said.
New facilities are one reason Walter noted as to the strength of the sport in the North Texas area. In addition to Keller, Southlake, Flower Mound, Plano, Allen and Mansfield have already established their programs as some of the state’s elite.
Other local area clubs, such as the North Texas Nadadores, have also seen a lot of success.
“Natatoriums, like Keller’s, help give kids opportunities,” said Walter. “There was a big increase in participation after the success of Michael Phelps in 2008. I think it helped spark interest over the last four years.”
The still-young program has already produced collegiate swimmers such as Rice’s Shelby Ragsdale and Colorado State’s Jenna Berry. In her freshman year, Alex Sellars was a member of the Louisville relay team which qualified for the NCAA meet. This year, the program sent seven swimmers to Division I signings.
“A lot of kids want to take it to the next level,” added Walter. “We have swimmers who represent KISD and LISD well and we feel we’re building a quality program.”
Those who have in interest in LAC for lessons or competitive swimming can contact the team by going to their website, www.swimlac.org or the Keller ISD Natatorium site, kellerisdnatatorium.wix.com/kisdnat.