I had the awesome opportunity to be a Zone Team coach this past summer for Middle Atlantic. Basically, I was one of the coaches in charge of MA's All-Star team for the Eastern Zone Long Course Age Group Championships, held in early August on Long Island. The Eastern Zone is made up of all the East Coast states from Virginia to Maine, and Middle Atlantic, our LSC, is the eastern half of PA, the southern half of NJ, and all of DE. It's a really strong area for swimming. Each coach that was selected was in charge of a different age group, and I was in charge of 10 & under girls... 36 of them to be exact, which was the largest age group. They were quite a talented...and spirited... group at that! What was really neat was that all these swimmers who normally compete against each other, and some may have even been big rivals, came together to represent Middle Atlantic as one team. It also brought together a diverse group of coaches from the region whom I had the pleasure working with. They were all a lot of fun, and I'm grateful to have gotten to know them. Marauder happened to have one swimmer attending the meet as well, Jayden Almodovar. Zara Paisley had also qualified but couldn't attend.
We started out by having a team practice that Sunday at an outdoor long course pool near King of Prussia. We got all our Zone Team swag (drawstring bag, shirts, shorts, pullover) and got to do some introductions. It was a little crowded in the pool, but we got some work done and even ended with a game of sharks and minnows with the 10 & under boys joining us. We took a group picture to end the practice.
On Tuesday, we headed up to Long Island, NY to the Nassau Aquatic Center. It was a really nice facility. We had a team practice where I did my best to try learning the names of all the girls I was in charge of... no small task but I did my best! Afterward, since we needed to kill some time until his mom arrived to get him, Jayden and I went over to the park by the pool and hunted Pokemon using Pokemon Go... there were tons of other people in the park doing the same. We had a lot of fun catching some more rare Pokemon like Magmar. Then we got some real NY pizza that was pretty good.
The next four days were spent at the pool, with the 10 & unders and 11-12s swimming in the mid-day session. I was pretty thankful that I didn't have the early morning sessions, and got to sleep in! The first two days ended in triumphant fashion as not only did the 10 & under girls crush it, the relay teams won exciting races! The anchor came from behind on one to win it and the place erupted in cheers. My swimmers just had timed finals, so we didn't have to come back for the finals session, but the 10 & under boys' coach, Alex, some of the 10 & unders, and I did attend finals some of the days. There was a theme each night, and the kids had fun dressing up. They were VERY spirited!
It was a really great experience for the swimmers, even if they didn't swim their best times. For 10 & unders, it comes at the end of a long season, and it's a lot with traveling, sleeping in a hotel, and having so many days of competition. I know Jayden had a blast and I did too! I was proud of each of the swimmers and it will be cool seeing them around this fall/winter at various meets. I did eventually learn all their names, by the end of the 2nd day I think :) It was definitely a great experience, one that I might do again in the future!
-Coach Jillian Almoney