WINCHESTER — Thirteen competitive youth swim teams from Albany to Medford and westward to the coast are at the Umpqua Community College pool this weekend for the Roseburg YMCA Swim Team Summer Open outdoor meet.
The local RYST has about 43 members from ages 6 to 17 competing in the meet, which began Friday and runs through Sunday afternoon.
The event was quite the experience for every swimmer in attendance. Some like Roseburg High School sophomore Trevor Knox have been swimming for 10 years and expected the crowds, while others such as Hucrest fifth-grader-to-be Avery Stanton were competing in their first-ever meet and were shocked by the crowd.
Stanton, 11, joined the RYST summer team this year, which allowed her to begin learning the fundamentals of the sport to prepare for the UCC meet.
Stanton said the experience at her first meet has been a good one so far.
“It’s good, kinda scary at first but I really like it,” she said. “It felt really good to know that I did pretty well.”
Knox has been swimming for nearly as long as Stanton has been alive and has a different perspective on the event from his experience.
“It’s tons of fun, all these teams are great,” he said. “I’ve gotten to know some of the competitors from other teams over the years at this event. The competition is great and everyone is in a great mood.”
The social atmosphere that Knox described was evident all around. Swimmers from different teams and clubs mingled and became friends in between races and they all detailed just how great the outdoor event was for meeting new people.
Ellie Ketchum, an RYST swimmer of three years who competes in every event she is eligible for, said her favorite thing was meeting new people.
“What I’ve enjoyed is that I’ve gotten to meet, bond with and become friends with a whole bunch of new people,” Ketchum said.
In all, about 300 swimmers are participating in the meet, one that RYST coach Dave Myhill said was “nothing short of awesome.”
Myhill said an event like the UCC outdoor meet is conducive to having lots of swimmers and spectators in one place, and a great thing for the community.
“This is a pretty big swimming event,” Myhill said. “Thirteen teams. They’re from all over the place and they bring the family with them. It’s great to be able to use this venue and have a partnership with UCC to be able to have an event where more people from the community can pop in and watch.
“Most of these teams compete only indoors and we can host this and everybody can come to show support, say hi, and just watch these kids have a great time.”
The event concludes on Sunday with the first heats starting at 10 a.m.
The RYST is a year-round swim team and information can be found on the YMCA website. Myhill can be reached at 541-440-9622, ext. 212.