Long-course swim season opens

April 12, 2002|By RICHARD MYERS

Sports Editor

BRAWLEY — Nearly 200 youngsters are expected to splash here this weekend for what Doug Gertenbach hopes will be an annual event.

"Everyone's excited," said Gertenbach, coach of the Imperial Valley Desert Aquatics competitive swim program. "Our kids are anxious to show off their pool and their community."

The meet will be at the Brawley Lions Center pool.

Years ago the Valley swim program hosted a pair of meets, Gertenbach said. A short-course meet, which was staged in a 50-yards long pool at Imperial Valley College, was staged in the fall and a long-course meet, in a 50-meter pool in Brawley, was contested in the spring.


But the two meets disappeared from the swim scene and the IVDA ended up going to San Diego for most of its meets while competing in the San Diego-Imperial Swimming Section of USA Swimming.

Last year Gertenbach revived the long-course meet.

"We had 120 kids," he said. "It was very successful. Everyone who came liked it and had a good time."

IVA swimmers had a good time since the meet was small enough and they had an excellent opportunity to win ribbons for good swims.

When Gertenbach decided that IVDA would host another long-course meet this year the response was overwhelmingly positive from the rest of the coaches in the San Diego-Imperial Section.

"They all wanted to come here because we put on a quality meet," he said.

As of Wednesday, Gertenbach had commitments from 15 teams with 190 swimmers total. Most are from the San Diego area although a team from Yuma is entered.

The IVDA meet is an A-B-C meet, meaning there will be top-flight swimmers (A division), medium experience swimmers (B) and beginning swimmers (C). They will be competing in 76 events in age groups such as 8 and under, 9-10, 11-12 and 13 and over.

The most competitive age groups tend to be the girls 9-10 and 11-12 divisions, Gertenbach said.

The Imperial Valley is well represented in those two age groups. Leading the local squad is El Centro's Stevie Wills, who competes in the girls 11-12 division. She has a solid shot at winning or placing in the 50- and 100-meter breaststroke events and the 200-meter individual medley, Gertenbach said.

Brawley's Julia Hannon also has a chance to place in the girls 11-12 age division in the two breaststrokes, he noted. Her younger sister, Ali, has a good chance to place in the girls 9-10 age 50 and 100 breaststroke events as well as the 50-meter freestyle.

There are 25 active swimmers in IVDA, Gertenbach said. Most are girls.

"We've got only seven boys and only three will swim at this meet," he said,

Most of the IVDA swimmers hail from El Centro. There are several from Brawley, Imperial and Calexico as well, and even a couple from Seeley.

"This is the first long-course meet of the season, which runs to August," he said. "So I don't know how well our kids will do."

He added the meet will be a good barometer to find out where local swimmers stack up with the rest of the San Diego-Imperial Valley area.

"There should be some pretty fast swims," Gertenbach said.

In addition to bringing quality swimmers to the Valley, the meet helps boost the local economy. Rather than commute back and forth to San Diego this weekend the swimmers will stay in local motels and eat in local restaurants.

The meet begins at 9 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Competition should wrap up about 2 p.m. both days. It is open to the public free of charge.

and there will be a snack bar.

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