Both teams this year have tallied their highest number of swimmers. The Kentlands Kingfish have 222 members this year, and the Lakelands Lionfish topped 190, marking the largest teams to date.
In fact, both teams are close to being the largest among all teams participating within the Montgomery County Swim League (MCSL).
“We do not have numbers for the teams, but from what I recall in talking with other reps, any team with over 200 swimmers is going to qualify as one of the largest MCSL teams. One year I had heard the Flower Valley team had around 250 swimmers,” said Bob Hincke, who is in charge of records and certification for MCSL.
So many kids wanted to join the Lakelands team that for a brief period swimmers were put on a wait list. This year’s pre-team for the Lionfish capped at 36 swimmers. The number of young swimmers wanting to become Lionfish was so high that the team had to implement a short wait list for a time until stronger swimmers could move up to join the regular team.
Lionfish Team Manager Connie Ingalls said in the future the team might have to increase the swimming ability testing to limit the number of kids who can safely be accommodated on the pre-team.
“We don’t want to turn anyone away,” she said. “The question does become what is the capacity for a community pool?”
This is the first year the team had to create a wait list to be sure the coaching staff had enough pool helpers to ensure the safety of the pre-team members.
Lakelands remains a young team, with a record 69 swimmers entered in the 8-and-under age category (not including pre-team). Another 57 swimmers are enrolled in the 9/10 age group; 24 in the 11/12 grouping; 15 in the 13/14 age group; and seven swimmers in the 15/18 age category.
Last year’s team totaled 155 swimmers. For the Lakelands Lionfish the bulk of new growth came from the 36 new families adding to the team.
“We picked up way more families this year,” Ingalls said. The Lionfish had half that many new families join last year. “We have a reputation for being a fantastically fun swim team.”
While Lakelands is seeing record younger swimmers, Kentlands tallied its most swimmers in the 15 – 18 category. This age group has 31 swimmers, the largest group Kingfish Coach Jonathan Taylor said he has ever coached on a community swim team.
Taylor said he wants to highlight his graduating seniors who are not only assets to the team, but also great role models out of the pool.
“They are a great group of real decent kids,” he said.
Keeping older kids on board is one of the challenges of coaching a summer swim team.
“Jonathan is the teen connection that fuels life into this age group, which is traditionally difficult to maintain,” said Kingfish Team Representative Tami Henneman. “Swim teams thrive on the relationships between all age groups, the younger kids looking up to the older kids and the older kids mentoring the younger ones. We are very, very fortunate to have this precious community dynamic.”
Rounding out the Kentlands team are: 29 13/14-year-old swimmers; 33 11/12-year-old swimmers; 38 9/10-year-old swimmers; 69 8-and-under swimmers; and 22 pre-team members.
“We have grown by leaps and bounds,” Taylor said.