Only the best will do for elite Fayetteville Aquatics Swim Team

  • Posted: Sunday, September 6, 2015 7:20 pm

On most weekday afternoons, the pool inside Fayetteville State University's Capel Arena is overrun with more than 100 youth swimmers from the Fayetteville Aquatics Swim Team.

Tuesdays, however, are reserved for just one group - FAST's elite squad, about 30 of the team's most advanced competitors.

On a recent Tuesday, the elite group had reserved the pool from 4 to 6 p.m., and at 4:15 p.m., two dozen swimmers were turning out warm-up laps.

These swimmers, many of them high school competitors, have been training long enough that coach Oscar Roverato gave little direction.

"OK, five hundred," the coach said. "Five hundred to start. Let's go."

While their teammates push off, tackling 500 meters at a moderate pace, brother and sister Elijah Tung, 15, and Shekinah Tung, 11, came bustling out onto the pool deck.

Elijah made apologies for the pair's tardiness.

"I'm sorry. I had a music lesson," he said, earning a nod from Roverato.

The coach gave another nod when Libby Hetherington halted a warm-up to announce she'd be leaving early to catch a high school soccer game.

"It's all right," Roverato said.

After all, the elite group is the only FAST level that practices six days a week, including dryland plyometrics workouts, and Roverato doesn't spend much time worrying about the rare tardy or early exit.

Instead, the coach moved on to Shekinah, who was attending her first elite group practice.

Roverato assigned her a 200-meter warm-up, a distance that allowed her to finish around the same time as the older swimmers who had started their 500s earlier.

"That girl is good for 11 years old," Roverato said. "You should see her butterfly. It's awesome."

Eventually, the group did move on to the butterfly stroke, and then on to work with kickboards to exercise their legs before taking on arms-only laps.

It's an exhausting couple of hours for the group, and Roverato deemed it a success.

"Some of the skills we work on here, they're very difficult," the coach said. "And these kids do them all."