WaterThrashers off to strong season start
New pool helping to inspire swimmers enjoy experience
The Monett WaterThrashers swim team will head to Lamar on Saturday for the team’s third meet of the season.
Head Coach Charles LeGarce said the team is off to a good start, having taken second place out of 12 squads in the team competition at Nevada in the first weekend in June. Last weekend, the squad doubled up and had two days on contests, taking third place of the 12 teams competing. Thirteen teams are expected in Lamar.
“We’re up to 120 swimmers [age 4 through high school], which is phenomenal,” LaGarce said. “Our No. 1 focus this year is having fun, and No. 2 is learning to do strokes correctly, which will help us cut down on injuries and make swimming a healthy sport.
“I’ve always said if you’re enjoying [swimming], winning and losing take care of themselves. If people feel valued, they will improve. The personal opportunity to grow supersedes trophies.”
The WaterThrashers are more than just a Monett-comprised team. They also include swimmers from Monett, Cassville, Purdy, Pierce City, Aurora and Verona.
LaGarce also looks at the WaterThrashers as an opportunity to learn life lessons. He emphasizes gaining confidence and “being gracious in success and failure.” He said with team members moving up to a new age division every two years, even successful swimmers can find themselves on top, then on the bottom in the next group, several times.
“The focus for me is to have a modicum of success, but to be well liked by other teams,” he said. “Be gracious and good sports.”
LaGarce speaks highly of Ginny Fuldner and the work she did setting the standard for participation when she started the WaterThrashers 30 years ago.
“Ginny put us in position to have a very successful swim program,” he said. “Ginny’s legacy was getting swimmers involved. Age is not important. The young can teach the older ones. It’s a family activity were all can compete. It’s rare where you can have a number of kids in the same place at the same time and all can participate. In swimming there’s a space for everybody.”
There’s still a “new facility excitement” with the team in the new swimming pool. Participants swim outside during the week, Tuesday through Friday. LaGarce noted that with the new pool not having to be refilled constantly, like the old leaking pool, the water is warmer and makes practice more enjoyable.
Monett will again host the championship meet this year. LaGarce said in each of the last three times Monett has hosted while he has been head coach, the WaterThrashers have won the conference trophy. He hopes to keep his streak going. Championship races will be held in the Monett YMCA’s indoor pool.
“I want our 30th year to be the best year we’ve had,” he said.
Jay Apostol is president of the team’s leadership board. April Fritz is secretary and Andy Goodson is treasurer. Also serving on the board are Ben Rosebaugh, Richard Hurt, Russ Balmas and Shelia Drewianka.
Balmas, he noted, made an extra effort to make sure the new pool has completed all its code requirements and secured its occupancy permit a week before the pool’s official public opening, so that the WaterThrashers had the first opportunity to swim there on May 21. Alumni received an invitation to visit as well.
The board has had to be more active this year in fundraising, as past support from a local foundation that has dissolved took away a major part of the budget. LaGarce said the leadership has reached out to the community and alumni, and has been encouraged by the support.
Other meets include: Carthage on June 23 and 24; the Taran Sack Invitational at Parsons, Kan., on June 30; the Mickie Moback Invitational at the Pittsburg, Kan., YMCA on July 7 and 8; Branson’s CiCi’s Pizza Invitational on July 14 and 15; the Joplin Stingrays Invitational on July 21 and 22; the Tri-State Swim Conference B Championship July 28 and 29 at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark.; and the A Championship on Aug. 4 and 5 at the Monett Area YMCA.