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Melia Kinney is counting the days until the Black Mountain Pool opens. She is eager to get back in the water at the Black Mountain Sting Rays swim team practices that start May 23.

Melia, 10, and her parents are pleased with the progress she made on her strokes and endurance by being on the team last summer. She loved how much fun she had being part of the group. By the end of the summer, Melia was pumped to compete in meets, she said.

Like Melia, many kids have improved their swimming strokes, stamina and learned the value of being on a team and being a good sport. Now in its third year of the Tarheel Swim League, the Black Mountain Sting Rays keep kids active during summer. Registration is now open for the summer season.

“With the changes we are making this season, I feel this will be our most productive summer yet,” said Beth DuBrock, the team’s head coach and manager of the Black Mountain pool. “Dividing up age groups and offering more targeted skill development will better accommodate the needs of each swimmer and help them progress further.”

DuBrock has worked to build and grow the team, which last summer included close to 75 swimmers on the roster. DuBrock has been thrilled with the growing response to a youth swim program.

Parent Mandy Stone was particularly pleased with the opportunity for her son Jackson to be part of a team in which each swimmer is celebrated regardless of ability. She likes the team spirit the kids share and appreciates the opportunity to connect with other kids and parents.

Organizers say the team is appropriate for children ages 6-18 years. Yours child needs to be able to propel across the pool unassisted, using no specific stroke. The cost is $60. This season will include three home meets and several away meets at locations such as Marion, McDowell and Granite Falls. Volunteer assistant coaches this season will include Danny Little, Karen Moseman and Ryan Lucas. Parent volunteers will help make the meets run smoothly.

There will be a required parent meeting on Wednesday, May 18 at 6 p.m. at Carver Community Center. Required to parents of both seasoned and new team members, it will cover issues such as expectations, calendar, changes from last year, coaching, equipment and more. At 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21, there will be a mandatory evaluation session to help coaches assess various skill levels and how the coaches can best support each swimmers’ development.

Practices while school is in session begin Monday, May 23 and run each evening Monday-Thursday until June 9. On June 13, once school is out, the practice schedule shifts to include Monday and Wednesday evening practices, and Tuesday and Thursday morning practices. The team will be divided into younger and older groups, each having separate staggered practice times. Practices will include both land exercise and condition as well as pool time. The team season runs through late July.

To register, visit bmrp.recdesk.com. For more team information, visit the Black Mountain Sting Rays Swim Team Facebook page.

Coaches are sympathetic to family vacations and other summer activities. Attendance at all practices and meets is not required. But “the greater commitment you make to regular practice attendance, the more progress you will make on strokes,” DuBrock said. Most team members come as often as they can. She welcomes interested kids to come try out a practice and see what a swim team is like, provided a waiver is signed before entering the pool.

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