Swim club keeps on stroking

The members of the Puget Sound Swim Club were hoping to see the Kirk sisters succeed at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials the past couple of weeks.

But more importantly, they’re hoping their kids see their success and translate it into some of their own.

“Sure, having (the kids) see that on TV helps us out,” PSSC coach Craig Brown said during a practice session last week at the South Kitsap swimming pool. “Anytime they see someone succeed at that level, it has to help. Especially when it’s someone they know.”

The Kirk sisters, Dana and Tara, are well known throughout the West Sound. The Bremerton duo dominated the high-school swimming scene and both are headed to Athens next month for the Olympics — Dana in the 200-meter butterfly and Tara in the 100-meter breaststroke.

“It gives them something to shoot for,” said Mike Stauffer, the team’s assistant coach. “It shows them that all the hard work can pay off.”

And work hard they do — twice a day, five times a week for the most part. This summer sees the group in the pool from 7:30 until 9:30 a.m. and then back again for a 4 to 6 p.m. session.

There are also two separate seasons for the club — short-course swimming, which is 25 yards and is comparable to high school, and long-course, which is in season now.

It’s a process that has been returning results up and down the line.

The PSSC is made up of predominantly swimmers from Port Orchard, but it’s not just another version of the South Kitsap swim team. Sure, there are some Wolves in the pool, like Greg Mercer, Nick Dargel, Rachel Hubner and Madison Rousell, but the younger crowd is also well-represented by the likes of Brandon Dravis and Victoria Goodman.

“It’s a good group,” Brown said. “We’ve got some young kids that are just now learning how to swim and others that have done a lot since first coming in here.”

Brown, who is the swim coach at Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, heads the group and works with the younger kids. Stauffer, who coached swimming for years, has come out of semi-retirement to work with the high-school age kids.

“I’ve been doing this forever and I love it,” Stauffer said. “It’s just something that I enjoy doing.”

The club is coming off the Age Group Seattle Open last weekend and will swim in Federal Way this weekend at the Pacific Northwest LC Champions. August sees the club take part in the Summer Grand Challenge in Tacoma and the Senior Sectional Championships in Federal Way.

The summer closes out with the Western Zones Championships in Redding, Calif., a huge meet that Mercer will be going to.

“That’s why I’m here,” Stauffer said. “I want to see more of the kids in the big meets like that.”

But it’s not all about fast times and big meets.

“This is a way for me to get involved with the kids,” said Cliff Rousell, the club’s president and lead volunteer. “I’m just on the dry side of the operation. I do just the stuff that needs to be handled so the coaches can focus on the kids.”

Rousell said his main job is ensure the kids have a body of water to swim in and the best coaches around to teach them.

“We want to promote the sport of swimming, promote water safety and promote conditioning for the kids,” Rousell said. “We want to give them a lifetime activity. The nice thing about it is we can complement what goes on at the school.

“We want to see them succeed as much as possible,” Rousell said. “The more kids we have in the water, the better.”

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