EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
MARBLE FALLS — The youngest, least experienced swimmers aren’t in the pool just to have fun and escape the Texas summer heat. Coach Krystal Lunsford has expectations and goals for them, just like she has for their more experienced teammates in the lane on the other end of the city pool at Lakeside Park.
“You work them up,” Lunsford explained.
Lunsford coaches the Marble Falls Tsunami, a swim team that competes in the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation. The athletes range in age from early elementary to upper-level high school.
At one end are the younger kids, clearly having fun, but Lunsford is quick to remind them they’re supposed to be working and paying attention to her when she’s talking to them. At the other end, are the older swimmers. In between are the rest.
Some of the athletes, Lunsford explained, have quite a lot of experience, including those who compete on her Faith Academy of Marble Falls squad, while others just started swimming competitively this year.
“I start them where they’re at as swimmers, and then start building on that,” Lunsford said.
For the youngest kids, it could be a matter of just swimming (the crawl) 50 meters and resting.
“The next time, they’re doing 75 meters and resting. Before long, if they keep building on it, they’re doing 200 meters,” Lunsford said.
It’s not 200 blazing meters; rather, 200 meters of good, consistent swimming at a pace they can handle.
That’s one of the great things about swimming, Lunsford explained. As an individual sport, each athlete pushes themselves against, well, themselves.
“You’re really trying to do better than you did the last race or practice,” Lunsford said. “Yes, you’re competing against the other swimmers in the pool, but it’s really about trying to improve your time each time out.
“In team sports, you’re working for the entire team. It’s not just you,” she added. “Swimming, it’s an individual sport, so it’s on you. And you’re always trying to improve your time each and every race.”
Lunsford knows the benefits of team and individual sports. At Faith, she coaches high school swimming as well as basketball and volleyball to the elementary grades. Life is a mix of team and individual efforts, making learning both beneficial for anyone.
The Marble Falls Tsunami are preparing for the TAAF Region 3 meet July 15 at New Braunfels’ Landa Park. They’ve already had at least three local meets as they aim for regionals followed by the TAAF Summer Games of Texas from July 27-30 in McAllen.
To prepare, the Tsunamis practice daily during the week at the Lakeside Park pool, 307 Buena Vista Drive, though Lunsford sets aside Friday for fun and games.
Poolside, Lunsford gives out directions to each level of swimmers. walks along the pool, coaches the different groups, and gives individual attention when and where needed.
Swimming 200 meters or longer straight might sound daunting, but Lunsford said it’s about setting goals and providing feedback and encouragement.
“I love seeing them improve,” she said. “I like seeing them completing a task, getting better at it, and building their confidence. When one of them accomplishes a goal, even if it’s swimming a distance they never thought they could … it’s great to see their faces when they realize they can do it.
“As a coach, you just keep pushing them,” Lunsford added. “It’s baby steps. Eventually, they’re doing bigger things, things that maybe they didn’t think they could.”
But the kids put the work in, she said, and that’s a big part of success.