The City of Keller Barracudas Swim Team of the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation (TAAF) will be sending 24 swimmers to state. After a strong showing in the difficult Region Four TAAF qualifier this weekend at the Keller Natatorium, assistant coach Linda Shults said she is proud of the team’s performance.
“We did really well at the regional meet and had a lot of kids qualify for the next level and make it to state,” she said. “We have one of the largest teams in our region and the region with the most members in the state. It’s a big accomplishment to make it to state.”
To get to the state competition, the Barracudas have put in long hours in the pool all summer. With 248 team members from ages five to adults, the swimmers started the season as soon as school ended on June 5.
Shults has plenty of experience coaching swimmers. She not only coaches the Barracudas under the leadership of the head coach, her daughter Jamie Shults, but she is also the head swimming coach at Keller High School. Heading into her 30th year as a swim coach and her seventh coaching the Indians, her high school job merges well with her Barracudas post.
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“The reason I like working with the Barracudas is that it is a strong feeder program. It develops the kids’ interest for swimming so that later on they may go into USA or high school swimming,” Shults said. “As a high school coach, it is good to see the kids getting involved.”
The Barracudas and other local swim clubs like the Lakeside Aquatic Club serve as a great training ground for swimmers of all ages.
“I spend the whole year coaching high school kids, so in the summers I like to change it up a little and work with the eight-and-under kids,” she said. “We do have some of our high school kids on the Barracudas and it is a great way for them to stay in shape over the summer.”
Working with the younger swimmers in the summers has given Shults an interesting perspective over the years.
“I love watching the little kids coming up. Over the past 18 years of working with the Barracudas, I have seen kids who didn’t even know how to breathe on the side and years later they are star high school swimmers,” she said. “It is exciting to see.”
The Indians will begin the high school season in a little over a month, and Shults is anticipating a successful year.
“We have a really strong swimming program at Keller and we are looking to repeat last year’s state appearance,” she said. “It is because of programs like the Barracudas that get the kids excited early. Then they go on to swim at the high school level and we all benefit.”
Before she turns her focus back to the Indians, Shults will be taking the qualifying Barracudas to the state competition at the 2014 TAAF Sumer Games in the Bryan-College Station area. The games feature the state competitions for many sports, including track and field, golf, baseball and swimming.
“They have opening ceremonies for the games much like the Olympics. The kids in the individual sports march in when they are called,” Shults said. “They usually do big shows and fireworks and the kids really enjoy it.”
The TAAF Summer Games begin July 31 and run through Aug. 4. Swimming kicks off Thursday at the Bryan Aquatic Center.