MSA looking for swimmers
BACKSTROKING Chris Engledow, head swim coach at Highland Park, helps Turner Belle, 4, with her backstroke. Turner is the youngest swimmer on the three swim teams meeting at the park. Engledow and lifeguards at Highland Park help children ages four to 17 improve their swimming skills in Gold, Silver and Bronze swim teams. The Gold team meets seven days a week. The Silver and Bronze teams meet five days a week. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
June 28, 2001
Know a youngster who loves the water? Then you might be just who the Meridian Swim Association is searching for this week.
MSA and its new coach, Chris Engledow, are spending the rest of the summer recruiting new members. And this week, MSA is putting on its second "Try MSA Week" of the summer.
"To build a swim team, we need the youngsters … the 6, 7 and 8-year olds that can barely swim," Engledow said. "Meridian is a very big sports community. I'm competing with summer soccer and summer baseball … but swimming is one of the easiest sports for kids to get involved with."
"Try MSA Week" gives Meridian-area youngsters a chance to get involved free of charge. Meridian Swim Association officials, as well as two MSA swim groups, are at Highland Park from 4-6 p.m. each day for the remainder of the week as they will be until August.
Engledow said MSA has three groups, the gold, silver and bronze. The silver and bronze categories, which include beginners and intermediate swimmers, are taking part in "Try MSA Week" while plenty of the gold swimmers are stopping in for training, as well. The youngest member of the group turned 4 just a few days ago, and kids of any age are encouraged to attend.
A competitive college swimmer with his wife, Nicole, at Northern Arizona University, Engledow said he was initially discouraged by the turnout in Meridian when he arrived a month ago.
"I was a little depressed, but we've had up to 45 kids out," he said. "It's one day at a time, but it's definitely a start."
As many as eight to nine new kids have already taken part in the MSA activities this week, but organizers have also had to battle with afternoon thunderstorms.
"The first time we tried this … the first day was OK and then we had lightening storms for the next 10 days," Engledow said. "But we've had about 35 the first few days this week."
Engledow said a town the size of Meridian could support a swim organization of more than 100 participants, and that he'd like to have 80 or 90 kids involved with the Meridian Swim Association by next summer.
"Swimming is just such a great sport for the kids," he said.
"My first week here, we had six kids … I can see the progress."
Rocky Higginbotham is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.