Slow Down to Swim Fast

Alicia Slinger

Slow Down to Swim Fast

By:  Emilie Cooper



On the weekend of Nov 4-6, Atomic City Aquatic Club competed with 15 other teams at the Tennessee Aquatics Fall Classic.  This was by far the biggest meet of the season to date, and for some swimmers, it was the biggest meet to date of their careers.  It was an opportunity for growth, communication, and a deep assessment of the team’s skills. 


This being the 3rd meet of the season, the coaches are “beginning to understand where we are as a team in our developmental process,” Coach Sarah Corcoran.  She was watching to see if the swimmers put forthbest efforts at this point in the season so we can assess our progress - what is and is not working in our training. … demonstrating skills under stress… [and] practicing being at a meet.”


As we have come to expect with ACAC, the athletes showed up and swam hard.  80% of the team set personal bests during the event!  


Dorian Volcansek (12) set best times in all 7 of his events! Isaac Cooper, Avery Fisher, Hollins Grubb, Rhett Grubb, Clara Hill, Marilyn Vincent, and Mateo Volcansek from the 10 and under groups set 5 or more best times each. Enrique Chance, Lylah Martin, Jessi Schaefer, Eleanor Vincent, and Emmy Zimmer all set 5 or more best times in the 11 and up age group.  


Kendall Hudgens (15) and Connor O’Neil (14) swam best times or right on their best times in most events and it was extremely positive given the changes they have undergone in their training,” Coach Chris Franklin.  Natalie Stegar (16) started off the weekend with a major time improvement, dropping 20 seconds off of her 500 Free.  


One swimmer demonstrated great resilience under stress.  Young Kamila Perez (9) was so intimidated by the big meet.  “She approached me for coaching, with tears in her eyes and a little bit of lip tremble. She got up on the blocks like that, full afraid....and went best times!  She was so scared and did it anyway!” - Coach Sarah. 


With more than 900 athletes competing, the meet was at times chaotic and sometimes things went wrong.  Being able to pick yourself up and move past it is an important skill to cultivate.  Clara Hill (10) had a moment to prove that she had what it takes.  Clara missed her 200 IM event and was terribly upset.  She rushed to ask officials to work her in, and they got her into the next heat. She took that moment of defeat and channeled it into a moment of victory, setting a personal best by more than 11 seconds! In both Kamila and Clara’s cases, Coach Sarah commented how proud she was of them!  


ACAC had swimmers that continually came out on top!  Jessi Schaefer (12) placed in the top 4 in all 9 of her events.  She swam under the qualifying times for ESSZ Age Group Sectional times in 100 Fly, 100 IM, and 200 IM.  Dorian Volcansek (12)  placed in the top 3 in all 7 of his events and also swam under ESSZ qualifying times with his 50, 100, and 200 Back and and 50 and 100 Free.  Dorian is so close to another ESSZ cut in his 200 IM; he missed it by only one-hundredth of a second!


Emmy Zimmer (12) and Ben Martin (10) both placed in the top 9 in all 9 of their events.  Mateo Volcansek (10) placed in the top 5 in all 8 of his events and was less than a tenth of a second from a new SES cut for his 50 free.  Sophie Volcansek’s (10) first place in the 100 back took her within a half second of an ESSZ cut.  


Andrew Chou (16) took 1st place in the 400 IM, “always pushing hard and making it look smooth and strong.Kendall Hudgens (15) [had a] solid strong swim [in the 400 IM], showing off awesome middle 200 strategy, highlighting all of her high-level efforts in practice,” Coach Sarah.  


“Connor O’Neil set the tone as a hard-working, more experienced 13-14 boy. PR [personal record] in 200 free… with textbook splits and racing hard to the end. He debuted in the 1000 free, turning in a 10:55.73 (someone to watch for in the upcoming Excel Meet of Champions. Where he will swim 1650 for the first time),” Coach Sarah.  


With so many amazing races and accomplishments, what do we attribute to these successes?  Definitely the coaches called out the team’s hard work, dedication, and the work they are doing to focus on foundational skills (turns, underwater dolphin kicks, streamlines).  Coach Sarah was also quick to point out that best times and placements are not the first things she thinks about. 


“Sometimes you need to slow down to refine the skills.”  Coach Sarah wants them to be confident with the foundational skills when they are little so that they don’t have to relearn as they age up and enter harder and longer races.  Personal bests “are just ONE motivator, but not our only priority.”  As the skills develop and become more refined, the times will follow.  


With senior swimmers, it’s a different game.  They have weight training and dry lands 3 days a week each and swimming as many as 6 days a week. Coach Chris commented, “Each athlete has their own ways of coping with the rigors of school, swim, social life, and a job for some…. the pool can be a place of ‘refuge’.  The simplicity of [the] task is one that can appeal to high functioning young adults in these times.  Their dedication is a testament to how invested they are into bettering themselves in and out of the pool.”


To catch more of your favorite swimmers in action, look for ACAC at their next meet.  They will be competing at the Excel Meet of Champions in Brentwood, TN over the weekend of December 3-4. 


Avery Fischer, Scarlett Cooper, Clara Hill, and Sophie Volcansek amped up and ready to swim!

Lylah Martin preparing to dive for her event

Clara Hill, Hallie Hill, and Emmy Zimmer show off the season’s team shirts