Recreation

June 9, 2011

Dolphins are ready to swim for it again

The Dalton Dolphins will open their Chattanooga Area Swim League season today with a home meet against Tennessee’s Signal Mountain at the Dalton Recreation Center.

Starting the schedule against a top rival who also happens to be the league’s traditional giant — Signal Mountain has won the season-ending City Meet every year since 2004 except 2006, when Dalton won the event — is obviously no easy task. But Dolphins coach Charles Todd is happy with his roster’s overall depth, and he’s especially pleased with the experience a strong older group will bring this summer.

“We have a lot of 15-to-18 boys and girls,” Todd said. “With (Dalton and Northwest Whitfield high schools) both having teams, a lot of those kids train with us in the summer.”

That certainly won’t hurt the Dolphins after good years for both of those high school programs. In its fourth year fielding a swim team, Northwest sent a boys relay squad to the Georgia High School Association’s Class A-4A state meet for the second straight season, while Dalton sent a whopping 23 boys and girls swimmers to state, where its boys team was 11th overall and sophomore Taylor Dale finished second in the 100-yard backstroke.

In addition, the Dolphins, although sponsored by the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department, act as a sort of summer extension of and introduction to the Carpet Capital Aquatics Club’s year-round team, the Makos, so quite a few Dolphins are also members of that team. While the Makos swim a more competitive schedule and put more demands on practice time, teams competing in the CASL swim sprint races in a 25-yard pool and include part-time swimmers.

So, having a number of veterans will be good for any program competing in the CASL’s Blue Division, the top tier of three levels of teams in the league.

“We are going to have good numbers and we’ll have good speed,” Todd said. “I feel like we can be one of the top three teams in the league.”

The standouts for the Dolphins will include Ethan Young, who has begun to earn national recognition for his times and should be “by far the best 13-14 boys swimmer in the league.”

However, Todd and the Dolphins aren’t yet turning away prospective swimmers. In particular, he’d like to have more depth among his 8-and-under girls, and those who join now will pay prorated fees for the remaining time on the schedule — today’s competition is the first of eight dual meets held during a six-week span in June and July in advance of the City Meet, scheduled for July 22-23 at Warner Park in Chattanooga.

Looking ahead to that big event, Todd knows aiming for a victory there will be a tough task. That’s not only because Signal Mountain has participation numbers that pay off more at the City Meet than in head-to-head competition — although the Dolphins are a large team with more than 130 swimmers, Signal Mountain is expected to have more than 200, Todd said — but because that weekend is when the Georgia senior state meet is scheduled and some of the Dolphins’ best swimmers will be there instead.

But Todd is optimistic about the damage the Dolphins can do in the duals, starting with today’s 5:30 p.m. meet against Signal Mountain.

“We have a few kids out of town because school just got out, and so people are on family vacations and so forth,” Todd said. “So I know we’re going to be missing quite a few, but we should have some real standout swimmers in each age group. We’re just looking to have a strong year, though, and one of our goals is we would like to go undefeated here in the dual meet this season.”

Dalton will swim its first four meets at home before hitting the road for the rest of the schedule. After today, they’ll host Stuart Heights (June 13), Fort Oglethorpe (June 16) and Red Bank (June 20) before going to Ringgold (June 23), Signal Mountain (June 27), Stuart Heights (July 7) and Fort Oglethorpe (July 11).

To join the team for boys and girls ages 4-18, swimmers must be able to complete one lap of the 25-yard pool. For more information, visit ccacswimming.org.

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