There were two birthday girls on hand, but that's not why there was a party atmosphere Tuesday at the Petersburg Racquet Club pool.
It was time to celebrate the start of another season for the CSRA Swim League, and all the competitors were looking forward to the opening meet against Woodside Plantation like it was their birthday.
PRC's Camila Albo turned 8 on Tuesday, while Melissa Eustice enjoyed her Sweet 16.
The excitement started when Petersburg's Michelle Gariepy dove into the pool for the 6-and-under relay event and officially christened the summer swim season.
Some of the younger swimmers chugged along slowly with a tentative dog-paddle, but the pool-side contingent of parents and teammates screamed like they were witnessing world-record performances.
Camila Albo, 8, (left to right) Caroline McCoy, 7, Taylor Angelisanti, 7, and Macie Russell, 7, cheer on their team, the Petersburg Gators, at a swim meet.
Photo by Trevor Frey
Although neighborhood pride is on the line when teams square off in the summer league meets, the action isn't exactly sink-or-swim.
"I think they really enjoy it," said Melissa Eustice, who helps coach the Crocodiles. "It's a great way to be competitive and have fun at the same time."
The fun began before anyone took a dive. Prior to the meet, Petersburg got pumped up with a poster contest, and Tuesday's proceedings took a patriotic turn when a dozen young Crocodiles performed the National Anthem.
Once the splashing was under way, the team spirit picked up a notch or two.
While waiting to swim, Hannah Musall, Camila Albo, Belle Brooks and Hagan Bottomly performed a dry-land medley. In unison they sang,
"Everywhere we go
People want to know, who we are,
So, we tell them...
We are the mighty, mighty Crocodiles!
The Crocodiles really rule, yes they do!
Similar scenes played out across the area Tuesday, as squads from Columbia, Richmond and Aiken counties also kicked off the summer-league season.
Teams compete in four divisions, which are based on the number of swimmers and how each particular team fared the previous year. During meets, points are awarded for top-three finishes in 77 events, with age divisions ranging from 6-and-under to 15-18.
"It's definitely a fun-based activity, not so much competitive as high school or year-round swimming," said Drew Hess, an Evans High School swimmer who also is one of four coaches for PRC.
It's easy to have fun when you're winning, and the Crocodiles did both Tuesday with a 496-283 trouncing of the Dolphins.
Petersburg Racquet Club's team placed second in Division I last season, and the Crocs want to sink their teeth into the top spot at the season-ending division championships next month at Augusta Aquatic Center.
In the meantime, PRC will keep working hard and playing hard at practices, which are held five days a week.
"We're not going to make any major changes," Hess said. "We've been working our way up the ranks the past couple of seasons. Our program has come a long way. We're hoping to clinch first place this year."
CSRA Swim League
Columbia County scores
Petersburg Racquet Club 496, Woodside 283
Stratford 453, Glennwood 225
Cambridge-Stevens Pointe 507, Woodbridge 289
Farmington-Northwood 383, Springlakes 368
Rivershyre 398, West Lake 311
This week's county swim schedule
Rivershyre at National Hills
Brynwood at West Lake
Farmington-Northwood at Jones Creek
Cambridge-Stevens Pointe at Springlakes
North Augusta Country Club at Woodbridge
Stratford at Augusta Country Club
Augusta Jewish Community Center at Richmond County
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