Sting Rays get back in the swim

Margaret Hurt
Special to The Black Mountain News

Elias Lang is eager for summer to arrive. He is ready for the daily trips to the Black Mountain Pool, where he will take part in the Black Mountain Sting Rays recreational swim team.

Elias loves everything about the program - the travel to the away swim meets, jumping in the cold pool for morning practices and being part of the group.

“The coaches are really nice, and it’s a lot of fun,” he said. His dad, Whit Lang, appreciates the good exercise his son is getting over the summer weeks.

For the fourth year, the recreational team will serve kids ages 6-18 years; the first practice will kick off on Monday, May 22. Registration is open, and the cost is $60. To register, visit or stop by the Carver Center office.

To be on the team, a child needs to be able to propel across the one length of the pool unassisted, using no specific stroke. Practice is four times a week. Practice is four times a week, with both morning and evening options. Meets take place at the Black Mountain pool, as well as in Marion and Granite Falls. Volunteer coaches make the program happen.

The team has taught seventh-grader Melia Kinney about both swimming and life.

“I’m looking forward to another season of growing as a swimmer, but most importantly as a person,” Melia said. She and Elias, along with many others, have improved their swimming strokes, stamina, and learned the value of being part of a team. The program is a good way to keep kids active and learning over the summer.

“There is much preparation happening now to get us ready for a larger team and to be able to host larger swim meets,” said Beth DuBrock, head coach and manager of Black Mountain Pool. “We are hoping to be able to extend the swim practices beyond the summer months in the future, she said. “We are so thankful to the many businesses who have assisted in sponsorships of needed supplies.”

Swimmers will be organized by age so that they are offered age-appropriate instruction. DuBrock’s work over the seasons resulted in a roster of more than 100 swimmers last summer. Her energy, leadership, passion and commitment to the team have yielded a strong following of swimmers. DuBrock has been thrilled with the growing response to a youth swim program.

Yvonne Hale has been pleased with the program for her girls, Olivia and Bella.

“It is friendly, and each swimmer can set his own goals,” she said. “I love that everyone cheers for one another and every swimmer makes progress.” Each swimmer is celebrated regardless of ability, and the team spirit makes for a nice atmosphere for all, Hale said.

Starting on May 22, practices will run each evening until school is out. At that time, practices will alternate between morning and evening times. The team will be divided into a younger and older group, each having separate staggered practice times. Practices will include both land exercise and condition, as well as pool time. The season runs through late July.

Coaches understand that many kids have irregular schedules during summer. Attendance at all practices and meets is not required.

“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.

Parent volunteers will help make the meets run smoothly, from stroke judges, timers, ribbons, concessions and more.

For more, visit the Black Mountain Sting Rays Swim Team Facebook page.