Aquahawks take on extreme challenge

Anna McCurdy competes in the first heat of the 10- and- under 100-yard breaststroke during the Lawrence IMX Challenge 2006 Saturday at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center.

Most swimmers spend hours upon hours in the pool perfecting one or two strokes to swim in a fast paced race to victory. For the Lawrence Aquahawks, that technique was a different story this weekend.

Over 250 swimmers hit the starting block over the weekend for the first ever Aquahawks I.M. Xtreme (or IMX) Challenge meet.

Swimmers from the Lawrence, Topeka, Olathe and Overland Park areas gathered for the IMX meet, which was created by USA Swimming.

The meet was intended to be a motivational program, and gave an average national ranking score to swimmers nationwide based on their combined score from performances in up to six events.

Swimmers were able to keep track of their scores online to see how they ranked with swimmers from all over the United States.

Mike Soderling, Aquahawks head coach, said the Aquahawks program decided to implement the IMX Challenge this year to help foster individual swimmer growth.

“It is more exciting for the kids beyond just swimming,” Soderling said. “It is something to challenge them to look forward to getting their ranked scores.”

The Aquahawks IMX challenge featured swimmers in four age groups: 10- and- under, 11 and 12, 13 and 14 and 15- and- over. Rachel Buchner, a 13-year-old and four-year veteran swimmer for the Aquahawks, swam in the 400- meter IM, 200 -meter backstroke, 200-meter butterfly, 200- meter breaststroke, 200-meter freestyle and 500- meter freestyle.

The meets seemed to be a success for the members of the Aquahawks.

Buchner said she recognized the importance the IMX Challenge had for building a young swimmer’s skill level through a variety of events.

“Swimming in different events like the backstroke is important in the way it relates to freestyle,” Buchner said. “If you work hard at the backstroke, you’ll get better at the freestyle.”

Fourteen-year-old Elle Weber swam in six events at the meet: the 200 backstroke, 200 butterfly, 400 IM, 200 breaststroke, 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.

Weber said it was important to bring the skill-building event to the Indoor Aquatic Center.

“We are at our home pool and we need to show (everyone) the best that we have.”

For more information on the IMX Challenge or to view results from the weekend’s events, log on to