Hard working North Georgia Rapids Swim Team Deserves Recognition

North Georgia Rapids Swim TeamThe North Georgia Rapids Swim Team in Blairsville, Georgia is a dedicated group of young people. They work hard to develop swimming skills and to improve individual times. The sport of swimming requires commitment and perseverance. Like other sports, attendance is important. The North Georgia Rapids practice every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the Blue Ridge Mountain Fitness Club's pool in Union County.

Practice is not playtime. These kids swim hard laps while Coach Barry Gay stands by with a stopwatch and note pad. Some of the kids may work on their breaststroke or backstroke while others concentrate on freestyle or the butterfly.

Coach Gay is dedicated to helping the Swim Team learn the best techniques, improve individual performance, and practice good sportsmanship. Gay says, "The swim team is growing every year. Kids really enjoy it and parents like the fact that swimmers are known to make the best grades of any athletes. Swimming teaches discipline and time management."

The parents are dedicated, too. They make time when there is none. They support the team and the coach. The parents say, "Coach Gay is great with the kids. He knows how to bring out the best in them." Parents agree that swimming is a good way to meet new people, it's a great way to stay in shape, it teaches life skills, and it's fun.

Team members range from 5 to 17 years old. Coach Gay advises, "If you are interested in joining the team, now is the time to start. In the summer months, practice is a little more recreational. Fall starts intense competition."

Travis Gibson is the oldest Rapids Swim Team member. He is 17 and lives in Murphy, NC, with his parents, Cindy and David. Travis has been on the team four years and loves the competition. His favorite stroke is the butterfly. Travis is a strong swimmer and wins many competitions. He recently received a college swimming scholarship and also plays the violin.

Courtney Marshall is 10 and lives in Young Harris. She has been on the team four years and plans to swim in college. Courtney says that when she was seven, she was accidentally entered into a 100-yard freestyle race. She cried and didn't want to swim but did anyway and actually got a ribbon. Courtney has received many ribbons and medals. She plays basketball and is a straight A student.

Carl Byxbee lives in Hayesville, NC and is 8 years old. He has been on the team for one month. Carl enjoys the breaststroke and says his mom and dad are his heroes.

Katherine Byxbee is 11 and also lives in Hayesville. She has been on the team for six months. Katherine prefers the breaststroke and has placed in most of her meets. She admits, "One time I dove into the pool before the buzzer went off." Katherine would like to thank her mom, dad, friends, and brother for their support.

Andy Houston is 10 and lives in Mineral Bluff. She has been on the team for one year. She likes the freestyle and the breaststroke. Andy says her mom is an inspiration and has always been there for her. She wants to thank her mom and dad, her grandparents, and her sister for their support.

Tanner Gay is 11 and lives in Blairsville, Georgia with his mom and dad, Barry and Carol. He has been on the team four years and likes the backstroke. Tanner says, "When I go around the mountains on the way to the swim meets, I usually get sick. Once when I was swimming a 200-yard freestyle I was way ahead but I stopped at 150 and came in fourth. That was kind of funny." The best swimmer in the world, Mike Phelps, is Tanner's inspiration. Tanner has two trophies and a lot of medals and ribbons.

Anna Knight is 10 and lives in Blairsville, Georgia. She has been on the team for 1½ years and likes the breaststroke. She says swimming is great fun and she likes being with her friends. Coach Barry is Anna's inspiration because he never gives up on her. Anna adds, "My full name is Diana Lynn Knight. I'm in the 4 th grade and in my spare time I read and play piano. I have one kitten and two dogs."

Nefertari De La Cruz is 9 and lives in Blairsville, Georgia. She has been on the team for 1 year and prefers the butterfly stroke. Neffe likes racing and staying in shape. She says that one time her goggles fell off in the middle of a meet. It was embarrassing but everything turned out OK. Neffe says that her family is her inspiration and that she plans on winning first place sometime in the near future. She would like to thank Coach Barry for all that he does. Neffe adds that swimming has taught her to be more responsible.

Katy Beaver is 14 and lives in Murphy, NC. She has been on the team for 9 months. Katy likes freestyle and says swimming keeps her in shape. She has placed in many competitions for her high school team and now for North Georgia Rapids. Katy says, "Once I had to swim by myself in the 100 freestyle competition. Everyone's eyes were on me but I got through it." She says her mom is her inspiration because "She always gets me to practice." Katy also dances. She plans to continue swimming and dancing in college.

Joseph Mancuso is 8 and lives in Blairsville, Georgia. He moved here from New Orleans after the hurricane and has been on the team since January 2006. Joseph's favorite stroke is the breaststroke. He placed 4 th in State Competition in Louisiana for his age group. Joseph says his mom and dad are his inspiration and that he would like to thank them for supporting all his activities. Joseph also wants to mention his brother John, and his best friend Cole Wright.

Millie Burger (no photo) is 5 and lives in Blue Ridge. She has been on the team for 7 months and has already won a ribbon. Millie likes the backstroke and swimming with her friends.

Sara Bartlette (no photo) is 11. She has been on the team for 10 months. Sara says racing is the best part of being on the swim team. She likes the breaststroke and thinks swimming is a great way to stay in shape. Sara adds, "Every time I dive, I do a belly flop." She still placed 12 th in a 25-meter race.

Michael Smith (no photo) is 12 and lives in Blue Ridge . He has been on the team for 1½ years. Michael likes learning the different strokes and being with his friends. He says, "At my first meet in Habersham I felt like I was at the Olympics. It was so exciting and such a spectacular place." He adds, "It is so free being in the water. I could live in a pool." Michael has placed 1 st in the breaststroke and says Michael Phelps is an inspiration to swimmers because he was so awesome in the Olympics. He adds that Chopin inspires him at the piano and Jesus inspires him in life. Michael plans to study computer technology in college and hopes to have his own band. He would like to thank Coach Barry for teaching him not only how to swim but to become a racer for a really cool team.

Andrew Ward (no photo) is currently out of town and is not available for an interview.