On a week as good as any to take a dip, roughly 100 swimmers were participating in the Sedalia Bandits’ final home meet of the summer at the Joseph W. Arbisi Memorial Swimming Pool.
Over 60 Bandits swimmers were joined by three other teams -- Boonville, Marshall and Jefferson City -- to take part in some of the last competitive action of the summer.
Ages ranged from as young as five years old to 18. Reileigh Simmons, 8, has been involved for four years with the Bandits, and was participating in multiple events, including the 25-yard freestyle and breaststroke, as well as the fly, which she calls her favorite.
Fifteen-year-old Emily Lesmeister, set to be a junior, has been with the Bandits for nearly nine years.
“I’ve done it since I was a little kid and made lots of good friends doing it, I just love it,” Lesmeister said. “It’s been so important to me, and it was always my choice; my mom never forced me to do it. I put everything I’ve got into it.”
Lesmeister’s bread and butter is the butterfly, which she said she figured out was her primary event four or five years ago.
“It took me a while to figure out, and it’s one of the hardest strokes, but it just came really easy to me, and I’ve stuck with it ever since,” she said.
Lesmeister shaved several tenths of a second off her personal best time of 36.41 in the 50-yard butterfly, but said her goal before she’s done is to get in the 31-to-32 second range.
“It’s just about practice and more practice on distance and speed, and getting more time shaved off at events and practices,” Lesmeister said. “I’ve shaved a couple seconds off [the last year or so], but I want to get a lot more and get on that board over there.”
Like Lesmeister, 11-year-old Aiden Scholl has an older sibling he’s aiming to match feats with, or exceed. In his case, it’s brother Hunter, one of Smith-Cotton’s best swimmers who’s about to be a junior. So far, he’s following pretty well in his footsteps, The younger Scholl finished the 50-yard freestyle Wednesday in 32.79 seconds, clipping almost a second off his previous best, and also beat his previous best in the 50-yard backstroke, approaching the Bandits’ best time of just under 38 ticks set several years ago by Clay Pilliard.
“[Hunter’s] helped me doing my strokes, making me go faster, [telling me] never give up,” Aiden said.
Hunter is reluctant to take too much credit, though.
“He kind of started to watch me, then he tried it and started to like it,” Hunter said. “He started before I did and he’s pretty fast. For how good he’s doing and his age, he’s doing good.”
After Wednesday’s event, the Bandits wrap up their summer league with their league’s eight-team championship in Boonville on Saturday.