It feels like it was only yesterday that Zach Seim got his start in swimming.
As a 6-year-old, Seim participated in the Port Huron Recreational Department Competitive swim program. Years later, Seim is 17 years old and about to be a senior at Port Huron Northern High School.
But before he enters his final year, he is spending the summer training out of the same program that gave him his competitive start in the sport.
“I’m getting my time in,” Seim said. “I swim constantly and I weight lift. It’s fun to come and swim with all of the kids. This is a great way to start out.
“You learn the basic technique. It’s a great group of people. You get to see the young kids all grow and learn. You watch them grow up pretty much.”
Seim is one of more than 100 swimmers that are taking part in the program that features a morning and evening team that competes against other local rec programs.
The Hammerheads practice in the morning and the Barracudas in the evening four times a week. Each Friday they compete in a meet.
“We have 61 (morning) swimmers and 55 (evening) swimmers,” swim coach Kyle Doty said. “There are more and more club swimmers filtering in. At least a third of our program with both teams are club swimmers. They come back and hang with their friends that might not be club swimmers and it’s cool to have their influence.”
The program just finished its third of eight weeks.
“It’s very low pressure and low commitment,” Doty said. “It is a lot more social in the summer. Swimming can get very stressful. As far as the rec program, I think it’s great to introduce swimming in the area. You can see it in the numbers. Over 100 kids within the program makes this the biggest aquatics program in St. Clair County.”
Elizabeth Sullivan has two children involved in the program — 9-year-old Regan and 6-year-old Madelyn.
“We have been doing it the last couple of years,” Sullivan said. “Regan does competitive swim all year round. It’s a nice break for her and this is where she learned how to swim competitively. Because of the Rec program, she competes in U.S. meets all year round.”
Brad Ward has seen first-hand the impact the program can have. He once swam in it and returned to coach a decade ago.
“The kids seem to love it,” Ward said. “They have to have fun or they won’t continue to do it. But they love it. They are having a lot of fun. This gives the kids something to do. They get ribbons they can be proud of. They get to be a part of a team.
“The biggest thing I teach them is to have straight legs and to keep their face in the water. Every time you pick up your face, your lower body sinks in the water. For a runner, it’s like running with a parachute. You are just dragging.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @jhayes1136.