With many activities going on in the summer and with a number of high school students putting in more hours at their jobs, making a commitment to sports training can be difficult.
Smith-Cotton High School swimming coach Jerry Tankersley coaches the Bandits swim team each summer to give area swimmers a chance to train and compete in the offseason.
He said some of his Tiger swimmers travel around the state to compete with the Bandits, but others cannot.
“We have a few,” Tankersley said. “With jobs and all the summer things they have going on it’s tough for them.”
Carter and Blake Lapine, Christian Oja, Wendsday Thompson, Madison Provance and Kaitlyn Puentes are among the S-C Tigers taking time out of their summer break to train and compete with the Bandits.
“I always tell them if you can just maintain in the summer, that way you are not taking two or three or four steps backwards,” Tankersley said. “If you can maintain, you’ll be in better shape.”
Carter is spending his first summer as a member of the Bandits because other commitments kept him away from the area during past summers.
“I’ve been out of town for the last couple of summers, so I’ve been able to work on my technique more,” Carter said.
The Bandits compete in more than a dozen meets from the end of May through mid-July. Carter said he’s already seen a difference in his performance.
“Swimming in the summer allows me to get faster and get used to the meets and get PR’s,” he said. “I’ve actually gotten PR’s in all of my events.”
Tankersley said he’s coached the Bandits for about a half a dozen years. It allows him and his S-C swimmers to continue to work together in the offseason.
“I’m able to get more one-on-one with my coaches,” Carter said.
Swimmers from other area schools like Windsor, Green Ridge, Warsaw and Cole Camp are also spending their summer competing with the Bandits.
Tankersley said the team allows kids who can’t compete during the school year to still participate in a sport they love.
“Especially the Cole Camp High Schoolers and some Green Ridge High Schoolers and some Windsor kids that are in that boat,” he said. “They wish their school would add a swim team because they enjoy swimming.”
Even though some of the swimmers don’t compete on high school teams, Tankersley said they still have quality skills.
“It really depends on the kid,” he said. “I’ve got kids that swim year-round from Windsor and they are top of the line. I’ve got some that are just starting out. Most of the kids that swim from other schools are pretty solid.”
Like Carter said, the offseason can be a time to reach personal bests, but Tankersley said that’s been an added surprise.
“Some of these guys that are swimming in the summer have had their best times and we don’t normally see that,” he said.