"We have kids from all across the area on this year's team," said Jason Prine, president of the WaterThrashers Board. "Every year we continue to grow. We have swimmers from Monett, Aurora, Pierce City and Cassville. The WaterThrashers are the largest team in the Tri-State Conference."
"I'm excited," said Janssen. "Swimming lends itself to everyone, regardless of ability. It allows youth to achieve and improve upon personal goals in a positive and enjoyable atmosphere."
While the WaterThrashers are technically considered a recreational team, the competition can become fierce.
"I believe we have a unique sport," said Prine. "Athletes can swim at their own pace and not be pressured, or they can push toward winning a championship. Monett has always had a determined group of swimmers."
Prine said he has always loved the water and that led him to join the WaterThrashers years ago.
"I started swimming on the team the first year Ginny (Fuldner) created the WaterThrashers in 1989," said Prine. "She did a wonderful job of establishing a strong foundation that has given non-traditional athletes a chance to excel."
This WaterThrashers will compete in nine meets over the next 11 weeks.
"Swimming is a very demanding sport," said Prine. "You have the immediate need of physical exertion, but you also have to have the mental ability to drive yourself to the finish line."
As a coach, Jannsen sees her role as situational.
"When dealing with younger swimmers, I teach more of the mechanics," explained Jannsen. "I want the kids to love swimming as they begin. This is a fun sport. It is hard to be successful if you don't enjoy what you are doing. As the swimmers grow and mature, I try to help the kids develop the mental toughness needed to be a competior."
Janssen started swimming in junior high school and went on to swim collegiality at Grand Valley State University. While in college, she met her husband, Dan, who, is a teacher at Monett High School.
"Dan and I were both on the swim team in college," said Janssen. "He was the one who encouraged me to first volunteer with the WaterThrashers. It has turned out to be a blessing ever since."
Monett has had one major drawback in its swimming program ever since its inception--a lack of an indoor facility.
"Not being able to swim year round has put us at a huge disadvantage," said Jannsen. "When you look at the success of our program, it's amazing that we have overcome that fact."
Help is on the way. The Monett YMCA is currently constructing a new facility that will include an indoor pool.
"The City of Monett and the YMCA have been extremely generous to our organization over the years," said Prine. "The WaterThrashers want to thank them for all their help. We also have several area residents and businesses that sponsor our team. Without their continued support, none of what we do would be possible."
Janssen hopes that with the addition of the indoor facility a swim team could be established at Monett High School.
"We have some swimmers who have the ability to swim collegiately," added Jannsen. "Once they have the opportunity to swim year round, they can refine their skills to achieve higher goals."
In addition to private donations, the WaterThrashers hold an annual fundraiser at Monett's Windmill Ridge golf course each fall.
"We have an exceptional governing board," said Jannsen. "It's rare to find a group of dedicated individuals who work so well together. The members are great at organizing our local swim meet, finding volunteers to be officials and timers at our events. They are very supportive and understanding."
This year's swim meet at Monett will be June 24 and 25.
"It's a great time for all," said Prine. "It is the largest meet in the Tri-State Conference. South Park is the perfect place to hold the event and the trees provide ample shade, there is room to spread out so you don't feel cramped."
Janssen has simple goals for the WaterThrashers this season.
"First, I want all of our swimmers to have fun and enjoy the sport," said Jannsen. "Secondly, I want our swimmers to show individual improvement. Thirdly, I want the majority of our swimmers to qualify for the 'A' championship."
The WaterThrashers start practice on Wednesday and travel to Parsons Kan., on June 4 for their first meet.