SPORTS HEADLINES

Swimming: Swimmers fill pool in growing program

By David Talley | Published Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The lap pool at Fit-N-Wise is in danger of overflowing.

A strong influx of new swimmers has threatened to fill the pool to its edges.

Brooke Huffman, coach of the Fit-N-Wise Muscle Swim Team and leader of the Decatur High School team last year, has watched the squads grow since her arrival last August.

Huffman said most of her high school swimmers are also training with the Fit-N-Wise team.

Hard at Work

HARD AT WORK – Jennifer Morehart does a swimming workout in the gym at Fit-N-Wise. The Fit-N-Wise Muscle swim team continues to grow each year. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“If they want the extra practice time and they’re not involved in anything else, then they’re doing both practices,” Huffman said. “It definitely shows a different level of commitment from these kids.”

Several incoming freshmen have already approached Huffman, hoping to get a leg up on the season. After training with Team Muscle all summer, they’re now ready to compete.

“They’ve been coming in and working hard to get ready for the high school season,” Huffman said. “It’s awesome to see that. These are kids who came in with no experience and, through their own will, have gotten themselves in racing form.”

Huffman started Fit-N-Wise’s competitive swim program in 2001 with a team known as AquaRacers. Later it transitioned into Quest Aquatics, and Huffman led it for seven years before moving out of the area. Her return to Decatur in 2013 came at an opportune time.

“It just happened that when I moved back here, both coaching positions opened up,” Huffman said.

Huffman’s return also coincided with changes in Fit-N-Wise’s sports performance program.

Wendell Berry, sports performance coordinator at Fit-N-Wise, said Huffman’s team is part of a larger effort by Fit-N-Wise to develop several sports teams, ranging from golf to basketball to volleyball.

“We’re building the culture of Fit-N-Wise sports for this town,” Berry said.

Part of this expansion means separating the swim team into four skill-based practice groups, so that Huffman can isolate and work on specific issues with her team. It also means stronger backing and support from the fitness facility, which is based at Wise Regional Health System.

On the high school level, Huffman will be an assistant to new head coach Caroline Renfro. The duo brings a combined 30 years of coaching experience to the poolside. Renfro said she hopes she can become a part of Huffman’s established relationship with the students.

“She’s the backbone,” Renfro said. “I went to the first team meeting and got to see how the kids react to Brooke and they love her.”

In the past year, Huffman said she’s had the chance to grow close with the team. It’s a relationship she hopes will result in faster times in the pool.

“These kids are like family,” Huffman said. “I just want to build on the program and make it stronger.”

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