WSC Water Dragons finish winter season

Harley Ruiz celebrates a best time swim.

Harley Ruiz celebrates a best time swim.

For the members of the Waconia Swim Club, the team is all about friendship, commitment and swimming fast.

Swim fast is exactly what athletes from the Waconia Swim Club did at their championship swim meets in February and March. In fact, nearly every Waconia swimmer achieved at least one best time at their respective competition.

But for the Waconia Water Dragons, swimming isn’t only about achieving best times. Time in the pool also gives the athletes an opportunity to make friends and be a part of something bigger, according to head coach Amy Howard.

Anneli Paulson swims the 500-yard freestyle at the 2013 Minnesota Regional Championships in Edina.

Anneli Paulson swims the 500-yard freestyle at the 2013 Minnesota Regional Championships in Edina.

“During these finals meets, we are noticing true camaraderie between our team members,” Howard said. “ Our kids are laughing and enjoying each other’s company, supporting and cheering for all of our swimmers and wanting to hang out and be with each other even outside of the pool.  It is a family and a family-friendly club.”

During the season, swimmers have the opportunity to compete at several different finals meets, including C Finals and the Minnesota Regional Championships. As swimmers achieve faster times in each event, they can become eligible to swim the events at higher-level meets.

At the Minnesota Regional Championships in Edina, the Water Dragons were led by 16-year-old Harley Ruiz, who finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle. In total, Ruiz swam seven events and earned a best time in each of them.

Nicole Schuler swims in a breaststroke event.

Nicole Schuler swims in a breaststroke event.

Eleven-year-old Anneli Paulson also brought home medals when she finished sixth in both the 100- and 50-yard butterfly events. Paulson swam to her fastest time in six total events.

Sydney Tomes, Emma Lohman, Nicole Schuler, Kayla Feehan and Andrea Voelker each swam five or more fastest times, as well. Other regional championship swimmers included Katie Kray, Faith Pawelk, Carrie Thom, Chloe Thurk, Meg Geller and Ashley Basile.

Members of the Waconia Swim Club also competed at the C Finals swim meet at St. Catherine’s University. There, Thom led the way for the Water Dragons, finishing first in the girls’ age 13-14 1,000-yard freestyle.

Other C Finals swimmers included Bruhn, Geller, Kray Emily Eischens, Kaitlyn Gamber, Matthew Krogman, Jeb Merkle, Faith Pawelk, Alea Roitenberg, Calissa Shea, Grace Steinhage and Lauren Strei.

The outstanding swims marked a great end to the season for Waconia Swim Club,  which seeks to promote swimming in order to built confidence, character and ability through instruction and opportunity, according to the club’s website.

The growing club is an important part of the Waconia community and provides swimmers with a unique opportunity, according to Howard.

“WSC creates talented swimmers that will go on to be an important part of the high school teams and make a name for Waconia,” Howard said. “It is also an important option for many who may not always want to run or throw a ball. Swimming is unique.  It gives each athlete no matter how fast or how old a chance to participate fully — in practice and in competition.”

Registration is now open for the Water Dragon’s spring and summer sessions. For more information, visit the team’s website at www.waconiaswimclub.com. The Water Dragons welcome swimmers from all surrounding communities.

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