August 7, 2018
Senior Zones 2018 - Huntsville, Alabama
Roster: Avery Doolittle, Parker Kam, Micah Overland, Sammy Wittmer, Marissa Carlson, Jordan Hennig, Riley Johnson, Taryn Kooyers, Lauren Kriendler, and Genevieve Manning.
Parents in attendance who we thank for helping, cheering, and being spectators in the stands: Erin Johnson (chaperon), Greg Kam (says he was there as a parent :) ), Jason Kriendler, Maggie & Scott Wittmer, Julie Manning and Mike & Regina Wysocki.
Swim Ohana left Sunday 7/29 for Ohana's first qualifier team travel trip. We flew into Birmingham and drove 100 miles north to Huntsville. The highlight of the tiring travel day was grocery shopping, TWICE. Thanks to Swim Ohana for providing the cooking items for our first dinner and Erin Johnson for doing the cooking of our first team dinner "family style". Erin also was great about snapping photos all along the trip. See our facebook page for an album.
Monday was a decompress from travel day. To save their legs we enjoyed a scenic drive to Harmony Safari Park, a drive through safari. Initially the athletes complained a bit it would not be "fun", but as soon as they spotted the first tiny pigs and peacocks a few hours of their inner 7 year olds enjoyed all the animals. We followed with an afternoon pre-meet swim at the world class facility Hunstville Swim Association where they had recently remodeled and added a second indoor long course pool. The spectator area was very comfortable as well. Then enjoyed another home-cooked meal by Erin and Maggie Wittmer which became a nightly thing. Eating home(hotel)-cooked, healthy and less expensively as a team in a faster manner than going out to eat every night. And we had daily leftovers (parents your kids should have come home with more money than expected). Followed by watching Mama Mia 2.
Tuesday the kids got up early for a wake-up swim. Coach Kam drove Parker in to join us for relays! Headed back to hotel after lunch. Did their shaving thing. The first evening session of the meet we showed them off a bit and had a ton of fun. 200 meter relays-free, medley, mixed (boys and girls). They swam unbelievably fast and showed that even a small team can make waves in relays. Great way to start the meet!
Wednesday through Saturday Ohana swam prelims/finals daily. As with any meet, the swims were fast yet sometimes disappointing. The kids rallied with each other and kept digging in each session to go for all they could in every single swim. The team finished 21st overall out of 50+ teams. An amazing accomplishment our spectators can verify as we were a tiny team on the deck. Each day began with an early breakfast at the hotel, a warm-up, prelims swims, followed by getting out of the pool as quick as possible to eat and rest for finals swims. Our finalists came back tough every night and our non-finalists cheered for all swims. The evening sessions again were a challenge to quickly get out and back to our home-cooked meals by Erin & Maggie each evening.
Julie Manning generously bought a round of Chipotle after one prelim session which the kids loved!
Friday night we let Olive Garden do the cooking and catered into the hotel an Italian feast.
Saturday night Swim Ohana Booster Club provided a "Dessert Party" to celebrate their meet. Kids had s'mores by the hotel fire pit, ice cream, cookies, and brownies.
Sunday athletes got to sleep in a bit. Then we took off to the US Space and Rocket Center. Our science-y athletes might have enjoyed this a bit more but all enjoyed the rides, games, and history of the US Space Program. Afterwards we headed 100 miles south to the Birmingham airport and had the pleasure of a 3 hour weather delay for departure to Houston. Upon arrival all were anxious to get home, some sad goodbyes (Micah and Avery are off be adults in college and the military).
All in all it was an awesome trip. The kids raced very well. They bonded so much more than they realized they could. Cannot wait to grow our Zones team for 2019! Thank you to all the parents who sent their kids and to the parents who joined us!!!