New starting block dedicated at YMCA pool will help local swimmers compete

Published 12:56 am Friday, October 21, 2016

Members of the Vicksburg Swim Association are going to be diving a little better this winter.

Proceeds from a raffle and a donation by the VSA from fundraisers held throughout the year funded a starting block installed at the Purks YMCA pool.

“This allows that opportunity for them to further train and prepare for swim meets at a younger age,” VSA president Sheri Wallace said.

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Members of the VSA swim in multiple locations throughout the year. From March to October the team likes to stay outside at City Pool, but from October to March when the weather gets cooler, they head indoors. The younger swimmers spend time at the YMCA while the older swimmers go to Wyatt’s Gym.

“The team has just grown so much in the last couple of years that we’re now using both pools,” Wallace said, adding the program has gone from 20 to 90 swimmers in the past eight years.

While City Pool has diving blocks, the YMCA and Wyatt’s Gym do not.

VSA decided to fund the installation of the starting block at the YMCA because the children didn’t have a block to use when they practiced indoors in the winter, which was something the swimmers greatly missed.

“We felt like we were getting a little behind in the winter when we didn’t have a block to practice off of, so it will benefit students from little all the way to the old ones. The younger ones just need to learn how to dive off a platform, where the older ones, we need to critique their dives and maximum speed,” coach Mathew Mixon said.

Having the block will give the young swimmers a place to practice the starting dive of a race. The position the swimmer needs to take to dive into the water at the start of a race is hard to emulate on the side of the pool. Having the block, which sits about two feet off the water, gives them a lift off the ground and a slight angle to get a good push off into the water.

Wallace said the block will also help the swimmers practice when to push off, making sure they don’t go too soon or too late in a race.

VSA members will mostly use the block, but Wallace said Warren County’s high school swim teams would be able to use it as well. Both the VSA and high school teams from Warren Central, Vicksburg High and St. Aloysius practice at the YMCA, but they only host meets at City Pool.

“It helps with your racing dive. This gives them, especially these younger kids as they’re getting prepared to go to a swim meet, this gives them an opportunity to practice diving off the board,” Wallace said. “Our younger kids are so excited that they get to have a chance because during the winter they miss not having the board to dive off of like they do in the summer and they need that practice.”

Wallace said she is thrilled that the association was able to acquire the starting block so quickly. The project started this spring with a goal of getting it installed by October.

“These boards, once you order them, they have to be built for the pool,” Wallace said. “It’s not like you can just order a traditional and they can ship it to you. They actually get everything and then they build it. We’ve been waiting for them to build it, then ship it to us and have it installed.”

Sarah Figarola, a member of the VSA board, was in charge of fundraising and chose to raffle swimming lessons with Mixon to people in the community because they are in such high demand, Wallace said.

“We used swimming to make money for swimming, which is kind of neat,” Mixon said.
Wallace said there is a waiting list to get lessons from Mixon, and people were willing to help with the cause for the opportunity to get lessons sooner.

“Our swimmers went out and sold tickets to members of the community, and there were some that just donated money to go toward it, and then we had a big raffle and raffled off lessons. Coach Mixon is a hot commodity for teaching swim lessons,” Wallace said. “He donated his time, which is really awesome. He’s an amazing coach.”

The honor of the maiden dive was bestowed to Mixon on Thursday evening.

“We wanted to make sure he was the first jump off the block,” Wallace said.
Mixon said he was thankful for everyone who set up and supported the fundraiser that helped pay for the block.

“It’s special for our kids and it means a lot to them and the program,” Mixon said. “We’re very thankful.”