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Partin, Ray Get a Crash Course in Competitive Swimming, Sharks Style

Chris Fernsler
Sports Writer

There is no easy way to transition from a recreational swimmer to a diehard competitor.

For most, the logical entry into the sport comes with a short dive into the deep end of the pool in a sea of flailing arms and legs. It’s called racing.

Most competitive swimmers like it. Andi Partin of LaGrange is one of those swimmers who has accepted the challenge. She is a Troup County Shark, minus a few dorsal fins.

“I joined just a couple of days ago,” Partin said on Monday afternoon.

She is here to stay. Partin, a fifth-grader at La-Grange Academy, has found herself a new team and a new sport. She now plans on swimming with the Sharks on a weekly basis at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center pool.

“This is a fun exercise. I’m not that good, but I’m trying my best. I try to keep pushing,” said Partin. “Swimmers need strength and confidence. Freestyle is my best (stroke).”

Partin is 11 years old, just like another new Sharks swimmer. Kate Ray, the girl from Franklin, is making the competitive transition, too. She is catching on.

Ray is flexible, limber and motivated. She is also athletic and willing. But most of all, Ray is a welcome and talented addition to the Sharks swimming team.

The junior squad swam 1,000 yards in the Monday workout. Ray caught every lap, from the butterfly, to the breaststroke, to the freestyle, to the backstroke. Coach Kristin Moore did not go easy on her team.

Ray withstood every twinge, pain and lap of the swimming kind. The Sharks are building character and good swimmers. Kate Ray is one of those.

“You have to kick your legs fast. I try hard. I love it a lot, and the coach is teaching us well,” Ray said of Kristin Moore.

Arabella Sprayberry is a fresh face on the swimming scene, too. She has been a Troup County Shark for less than a year. Sprayberry is getting faster, tougher and stronger.

She is a pretty competitive nine year old. Sprayberry, the LaGrange girl, is in third grade. But four afternoons per week, Sprayberry is a high velocity swimmer for the Troup County Sharks.

And loving it.

“I get to float. Swimmers need a bunch of techniques, and you aren’t supposed to splash when you put your arms in the water,” said Sprayberry.

Daniel Gudgin is a dynamic young swimming star, too. He is nine years old. Gudgin lives, breathes and swims for the Sharks.

“I’m good at the 50 freestyle. I’m getting better with my breathing techniques. I’m strong, and I’m keeping in rhythm (in the pool),” said Gudgin.

He’s a thinker and a swimmer. Gudgin is also fast, and he is cutting time, along with some weight. He is getting into swimming shape. “I like diving off the (starting) block. I’m having fun,” said Gudgin. “Swimmers need dedication.”

Daniel Gudgin has that and so much more.

The author of this article can be reached via email at info@troupcountynews.net

A new member of the Troup County Sharks, Kate Ray, does her part and swims her race in a Monday afternoon practice.

Andi Partin is enjoying her new team, the Troup County Sharks. Partin is an 11-year-old swimmer.

Dawson Otts gave the Troup County Sharks everything that he had at Monday’s workout at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center.

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