The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

May 29, 2012

Joplin Stringrays swim team anticipates bigger roster

Nearly a hundred swimmers showed up for the Joplin Stingrays first practice of the season Tuesday morning at Schifferdecker Pool, said head coach Dana Burkett.

That number is expected to grow as some swimmers prepare for the Webb City Invitational on June 2. That meet is not a team-sponsored event, but the Pittsburg (Kan.) Invitational on June 9 will be a team event.

Burkett, who has been an assistant coach for the past 10 years, succeeds David Zimmerman, who coached the team last summer but has since moved to Tulsa.

Her assistant coaches are Cassaundra Burkett, Lauren Cohener, Nikki Burkett and Dustin Read. “Some of our older swimmers help out as well,” she said. Tanner Risco, Chris Martucci, Emily Thompson and Jera White assisted with the first-day activities, she said

“I know we have a few more coming on to help, and we’re going to need them,” she said. “We had about 35 new swimmers (out of 99) show up today. I even had a 4-year-old do a 25-yard swim today. I was totally amazed.”

Jennifer Martucci, president of the board of Joplin Swim Team, Inc., said she expects participation will increase beyond last year’s level.

“So far, we have about 120 kids,” she said. “By the end of the week, we’ll be somewhere between 150 and 160. We have a great coaching staff. They divide them up by ability and age. It’s amazing what they do with them.”

This year’s Tri State Swim Conference schedule does not include a meet at Joplin, but Martucci said she is looking forward to having the Joplin Invitational again next year.

“We are extremely excited abut the new pool the city is building,” she said. “Once they get that built, we’ll probably have the biggest meet of the season.

“The last couple of years, our attendance hasn’t been that great because some of the younger swimmers were intimidated by the size of the pool,” she said of the 50-meter pool at Schifferdecker Park.

“The plan I’ve seen is they’re going to have a six-lane, 50-meter pool and either a six- or eight-lane 25-yard pool,” she said. “In the summer, the USA league swims in the 50 meters and the short course is what our conference swims.”

The “B” Championships are scheduled for July 28-29 at Carthage, with the “A” Championships on Aug. 4-5 at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark.

Joplin won the conference championship in 2009 and 2010 but was edged by Monett for the title last summer.

“We’re very excited to get started. We have one of the biggest teams in the league,” Martucci said. “Last summer, Monett beat us by 50 points, so we’re looking to take that back this season.”

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