The Dallas Mountaineer Aquatic Club continues to grow and is celebrating its 10th year with its largest group of swimmers ever.
We've grown from a last-place team to one of the strongest in our league, said club vice president Kathy Berger.
The club, which competes in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Age Group Swim League, reached a high of 142 competitors ages 6-14 early this season before some dropouts lowered the number to about 135.
Berger said the program had been averaging around 100 swimmers in recent years.
We've grown significantly this year, she said. We've improved every year, but it's pretty much been the same structure. I think the Olympics this year helped spark an interest in swimming.
The program is run at the Dallas Middle School where practices are held five evenings a week, beginning in October. Meets are held from December through the NEPAGSL championship in late February. When the team is at home, meets are also held at the Dallas Middle School pool.
We are there five nights per week, Berger said. We encourage them to come as often as they can because it is an endurance sport.
Berger said there is not, however, a requirement of a specific amount of practice time to take part in competition.
Chris McCall serves as head coach of the program with three assistant coaches and two others who volunteer part-time.
There are no residency requirements to be part of the club which caters primarily to Back Mountain residents. Swimmers from the Dallas and Lake-Lehman School Districts are part of the program this winter are some from Wyoming Valley West.
Berger said some of the swimmers naturally advance on to the high school level. Dallas High School won a District 2 Class AA boys championship last year.
We're finally becoming a pretty good feeder program into our school team, she said.
NEPAGSL meets are split into boys and girls competition with races in four age groups – 8-, 10-, 12- and 14-under.
The Dallas team competes in the Southern Division with Hanover, Central Columbia, Wyoming Valley CYC, Pittston, Danville and Berwick. Its schedule opened with a meet against Northern Division member Delaware Valley.
A Dec. 16 meet at Valley View was the team's third of the season. The league schedule resumes Jan. 5 with a meet at Central Columbia.