Sunkist Swim Team History
Sunkist Swim Team was first called Jackson Aquatic Club when the team was formed in the fall of 1975. Prior to JAC forming, swimmers competed throughout the Jackson metro area exclusively on summer league teams. JAC was the first swim team to offer year-round training and competition. Rick McMahan became JAC’s first full time coach and the program quickly grew from 30 swimmers to over a 100 in a few short years.
In the late 70s, JAC received national recognition with several swimmers achieving High School All American honors, Top 16 and also competing at Senior and Junior Nationals. In 1980, Julie Miller became the team’s first national champion winning the 11-12 100 backstroke at AAU National Junior Olympics.
In 1982, the team undertook fundraising activities in order to build a new Olympic-sized pool. Seed money was provided by generous sponsors and led by Kenneth Brown of Brown Bottling. Mr. Brown offered a sponsorship arrangement with the team and JAC became known as Sunkist Swim Team. The new pool was completed in the fall and a large orange “Sunkist bubble” was constructed over the pool for winter training. The pool currently known as the “Courthouse Pool” became the first indoor 50 meter facility in the state.
In 1983, Sunkist won its first state team championship, beating legendary rival team Golden Triangle Swim League winners of 18 straight state titles including its titles when named CSA. GTSL recaptured the title the next three years, then Sunkist won again in 1987. After the 1987 victory, Sunkist dominated Mississippi swimming for the next decade and a half, winning 29 straight state championships.
Throughout the years, swimmers for Sunkist have set numerous state records and represented the team on the national and even world stage. In 1980, Melinda Pitts and Martina Bebin became the first Sunkist swimmers to compete at Olympic Trials. In 1984, Chris Emerson swam the 800 free at Olympic Trials and, later that year, she reach the finals at US Senior Nationals in the 200 and 400 IMs, as well as the 400 free. Chris swam for powerhouse University of Texas throughout her college years. Sunkist swimmers also regularly qualify for the MS Zone Team which represents Mississippi at Southern Zone Championships. Many Sunkist swimmers have received scholarships at the top swimming universities in the country (see collegiate swimmers).
Sisters Mimi and Maggie Bowen represented Sunkist at US Senior Nationals in 1994, with Mimi qualifying for the Olympic Trials. In 2001, Maggie became the first Sunkist world champion, winning the gold medal in the 200 individual medley at the FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. Both Bowen girls swam for Auburn and claimed NCAA Women’s Individual Championships, with Maggie breaking several American records and leading the team to a national championship her junior year.
In 2005, Sunkist moved into the Flowood YMCA upon completion of a new state of the art short course indoor pool named the Kenneth Brown Natatorium. Olympian Lenny Krayzelburg, Olympian Ian Croker and Sunkist’s very own world champion Maggie Bowen attended the pool’s opening ceremony and sponsorship dinner.
In 2009, Sunkist received national recognition as a Bronze Medal Club from USA Swimming Club Recognition Program, led by Junior National qualifier Timmy Dasinger. Timmy broke several state records during his age group career with Sunkist and accepted a swimming scholarship to LSU. Timmy also competed at 2012 Olympic Trials.
In 2012, Eien McGee finished number one in the nation in 5 events as an 11-year old with 11 top ten individual swims overall, 3 swims ranked in USA Swimming's All Time Top 100.
In 2013, Sunkist broke 49 state records, a new team high which was bested in 2014 with 59 state records broken.
In 2014, Sunkist returned to the top of the state winning both short course and long course state championships for the first time since 2001. Sunkist finished Top Ten at Age Group Sectionals and Jack Smithson led the way with a victory in the 13-14 200 fly, the state record time also ranked in USA Swimming's All Time Top 100. Head coach David Orr was named Mississippi Swimming's Age Group Coach of the Year.
In 2015, Natalie Cox finished top ten in the nation as an 11-year old in 50 and 100 breast.
In 2016, Sunkist shatters team high for state records, breaking 100 state records during the year.
To this day, Sunkist continues its rich tradition of swimming excellence and success under the direction of Coach David Orr. Sunkist Swim Team is a a non-profit club member of USA Swimming, offering the best swimming instruction, training and competition for swimmers of all ages and abilities in Mississippi.