Though the Lawrence Aquahawks have established themselves as an elite swimming club, head coach Mike Soderling insists that they have done so by starting swimmers at a relatively young age.
"The 14-and-under is a huge part of it," Soderling said. "Once in a while, we have an Alex Brunfeldt that started at 13 or 14 and shot up. Rarely do we have that, though. The foundation of everything starts when they're young and comes out of our age-group program."
The Aquahawks have 160 members, ages 6 to 22. Soderling said he'd like around 200.
The Aquahawks are divided into two groups: the competitive training group, where Brunfeldt, Tyler Schmidt and the rest of the big-name Aquahawks belong; and the recreational training group, where introductory training takes place, as well as where seasonal high school athletes train.
From there, the groups are divided into training programs. The recreational group, for example, has Discovery (6-9 years old), Express (9-14 years old) and Varsity (seasonal high school swimmers) programs.
"We have high expectations," he said. "I think the key to a lot of it is the goal-setting we do. We start when they're young and try to have success early and continue all the way through."
For information on the Aquahawks, call 841-8891.
|In the last two years, six swimmers who train under Mike Soderling have combined to win 14 individual state titles in Kansas high school competition. They are:¢ Alex Brunfeldt. State champion in the 500 freestyle the last two years while at Free State, including a state-record time of 4:35.02 in the championship finals in February. Signed to swim at Indiana.¢ Jill Courtney. The Olathe North senior-to-be was one of three multiple-event winners at May's girls state meet. She won the 100 and 200 freestyles, giving her two straight state titles in the 100 free.¢ Ashley Jackson. Won the 2003 state title in the 200 freestyle, but a nagging shoulder injury hampered the Free State senior-to-be's chances at repeating in 2004.¢ Anthony Portela. Winner of the 100 butterfly at the boys state meet in February. Also swam a leg in two championship relay teams. Will be a senior at Free State this fall.¢ Ashley Robinson. Captured the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle titles at the girls state meet in May. Also won the 500 free as a freshman in 2003. Will be a junior at Free State.¢ Tyler Schmidt. Captured four individual state titles the last two years swimming for Topeka High -- the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly in 2003, and the 100 and 200 freestyles in 2004. Signed with Minnesota.|