The Lantana Lightning swim team recently wrapped up its sixth season, and head coach Chris Cullen said it was the best summer yet.
The recreational swim club that draws athletes exclusively from Lantana, took part in five competitions this past season, and Cullen said one of the things that most impressed him was the turnout.
“I think the kids did great,” Cullen said. “I think we had 168 athletes on the team, which is the largest number ever. I think the kids learned and progressed quite a bit. We had more than 40 in the five to six year old age group, more than 40 in the seven and eight, and I think it was 50 in the nine and 10 group.
“That is the way you like to do it—you have to build a pyramid from the bottom up. As they get older, they’ll hopefully continue swimming.”
Cullen, who is also the swimming coach at Guyer High School, said the fact that he is working with youngsters who will likely one day attend GHS is not lost on him, either.
“One of my motivations is to get kids involved in swimming and have a positive experience, and if they are interested in it in high school, they can take advantage of it one day,” Cullen said.
The Lightning swim coach said, while he did have a number of medalists this season at various meets, he does not really focus on that aspect of the sport with the Lightning.
“Because it is a recreational league, I don’t really look at it that way,” Cullen said. “We did have a number of kids break team records, but the way I treat it is that I want the kids to learn about the sport, and that is the biggest thing for me—that they had a good time and learned good fundamentals.”
The Lantana Lightning also has 11 & 12, 13 & 14 and 15-17 age groups, and Cullen said his major objective for next season revolves around some of those athletes.
“I would like to see more kids participate in the older age groups,” Cullen said. “We only had about 20 kids in those older groups, so we would like to see more participation there. I obviously also want us to have our kids develop their skills and improve, as well.”
Cullen said he anticipates having more than 180 swimmers next season, and said team membership has grown steadily since the club’s inception.
Cameron Cullen, 8, Chris’ son, said he decided to join the team because of his father, and said he is very happy he decided to do so.
“My dad’s the coach, and I like swimming,” Cameron Cullen said. “I really liked going to the divisionals meet, because I got to swim and see my dad cheer me on.”
Visit http://www.teamunify.com/Home.jsp?team=dalant for more information on the Lantana Lightning swim team.