West Meadows resident Vanessa Goldblum is one of the assistant coaches, and one of the rising stars in the Pipeline program is Goldblum’s daughter McKaley.
Goldblum swam for Banks’ Blue Wave swimming program for 11 years, starring for Durant High in Plant City and at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. McKaley is a sophomore on Freedom High’s swim team.
“The first time I brought McKaley here, she just loved it,” Goldblum said. “The sport is a huge part of our lives and having Peter (Banks) here is fantastic. The staff at Pipeline is amazing and it’s like we’re one, big, happy family.”
McKaley, unlike Piper, wasn’t in the pool at four years old. Rather, she was a volleyball player much of her young athletic life, and only came out for swimming this past January. However, her rise has been meteoric. Piper projects McKaley will be a finalist (in the top 8) at the high school state meet in either the 100m or 200m freestyle distances, or both.
At McKaley’s first high school meet of the season, she won both the 200m freestyle and the 100m backstroke.
“At that first competition, I was scared,’’ McKaley says. “But I talked with the coaches and they made me feel comfortable. They push me, but I have a lot of support from them. They make me want to get up in the morning.”
Abigail Leisure, McKaley’s teammate at Freedom, also is a member of Pipeline. Leisure is particularly strong in the breaststroke and Piper thinks she’ll be in the top three in the state in the event. Pipeline also has swimmers competing for Wharton, King, all three Wesley Chapel high schools and others.
Carly Joerin, a 14-year-old Liberty Middle schooler, was one of the original 11 swimmers that Piper inherited at Tampa Palms. Her mother Tibbie Farnsworth says that without Piper, the program would have never survived, and because of Piper, her daughter has thrived.
“I think its their approach,’’ Farnsworth said. “They are involved in the kids’ lives. And they make it fun for the kids. It’s competitive, but it’s fun. They work hard because it’s fun. They brought in a great coaching staff that has the same philosophy.”
It’s the little touches, Farnsworth says, like noticing when someone has had their braces taken off, asking about a test in school or even having nicknames for the swimmers. When Carly showed up for 5 a.m. practice on Aug. 31, her 14th birthday, the coaches were there with a cake.
“Isn’t that awesome?,’’ Farnsworth says.
Pipeline isn’t just a club for competitive swimmers, Piper says. The club offers mommy-and-me swim classes for toddlers. There is a Scare D Cats program for adults who are non-swimmers. There are active Pipeline members from five years old to 64.
“Youth swimming programs are a perfect place to find an identity,” Pike said. “Being part of a club became my identity and I stuck with it. It teaches dedication, discipline, life lessons and there’s benefit to the social aspect of it. A swimming friend is a friend for life.”
Pipeline holds tryouts every Monday and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club pool at 5811 Tampa Palms Blvd. For more information, visit PipelineSwimming.com, or call 941-737-4455.