Swimming in January in Colorado: Avon Swim Club growing passion for the pool
On a Wednesday afternoon in January, after a snowstorm left snow enthusiasts pleased with fresh powder, local kids of all ages gathered to do what they always do on a powder day.
The Avon Swim Club meets at the Avon Rec Center for practice, snow or now snow, with kids from East Vail to Eagle on the team.
Head coach Meghan Hershey has been leading the club for two years now, a club that sent six kids to state competitions in her first year and is now looking to send 13.
While some of the kids have aspirations of swimming competitively in college or reaching milestones while in high school, others are simply in the pool to be with their friends and have a good time.
“I think it’s a really good escape from technology,” Hershey said. “For two hours they get to interact with their friends and work hard.”
‘Like a family’
The valley has more swimming options in the summer, of course, but the Avon Swim Club is one of the few that operates year-round.
Currently, Hershey and her team have about 35 kids swimming competitively, and about 70 kids overall.
“They’re very helpful,” 15-year-old Kylee Smith said of her coaches. “We’re all like a family. It’s a really fun environment, but they’re strict about it and they’re here to make everyone better.”
She said she used to ski but now doesn’t have time to.
“I just kind of clicked with swimming,” she said.
Matt Moates has been coaching with the club for about six months. He swam in college in Pennsylvania and most recently came from a swim team in New Jersey.
“It’s such a niche sport, but the people that are involved in it are extremely passionate about it,” he said. “It’s something that never leaves you.”
Hershey and the Avon Swim Club train and compete during two seasons, taking two months off.
They’re in the middle of their September to March season currently.
“It’s pretty awesome. For a lot of kids it’s their offseason right now or about to start a season, but with swimming, it’s all-year-round,” said Charlie Kiddoo, 15, who wakes up at 5 a.m., gets to swim practice at 6 a.m. before heading to school.
Last weekend at the Grand Junction Invite, the Avon Swim Club competed with teams from around the Western Slope, with the boys coming in second in the tournament and a large number of state qualifying times and personal bests.
This weekend, some members of the club will be heading to Denver for another tournament.
“Whenever they make one of those pivotal moments, it’s awesome to be a part of it,” Moates said, “and then help them get to the next level.”
To join the Avon Swim Club, email Hershey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Swimmers must already have gone through a Learn to Swim program and be able to swim a lap of freestyle and backstroke, in addition to an understanding of butterfly and breaststroke.
“You get the best of both worlds,” Hershey said. “You get to go skiing and then come in and be in an 80-degree room with water.”