By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Hundreds of swimmers from the Four-State Area splashed into the new Schifferdecker Family Aquatic Center on the first day of the Joplin Invitational swim meet Saturday at Schifferdecker Park.
The event is the first competitive meet since the new pool opened last month.
“We are excited,” said Jennifer Martucci, president of the board of the Stingrays. “It’s the biggest meet of the summer.”
The meet attracted teams from Webb City, Carthage, Lamar, Nevada, Monett, Branson, Parsons (Kan.), Claremore (Okla.) and Siloam Springs (Ark.).
Missouri State Rep. Bill White, a former president of the Stingrays, said the 616 registered swimmers far surpassed any meet since his involvment in the team.
“I don’t think we’ve had more than 350,” he said. “Eight lanes of 25 yards is made to order for a summer league.”
He attributed part of the increase to the inclusion of younger swimmers who weren’t comfortable with the former six-lane, 50-meter pool. “A lot of the little ones can’t swim or didn’t think they could swim 50 yards,” he said. “We’re a natural draw. People can get here easy. It fits everybody’s needs pretty well.”
The first day of the meet produced two Tri-State Conference records, both by Joplin’s Avery Oehlschlager. He established new league marks in the boys’ 11- 12-year-old division with times of 24.84 seconds in the 50 freestyle and 1 minute, 2.83 seconds in the 100 individual medley.
“From what I’ve heard, all of the coaches are happy. There haven’t been any complaints,” said Stingrays head coach Dana Burkett.
“I’ve been really proud of them,” she said of the Stingrays. “They’ve taken off a lot of time in a lot of different areas. Their self-confidence is going up. It doesn’t just help them with swimming, It helps them all-around.”