The Milford Area Swim Team will be rooting especially hard during these next few days as members of their umbrella organization compete in London for Olympic gold.
“In the summer we swim in the SOSL, the Southern Ohio Swimming League, which are your community pools and summer clubs. Those are short-course events – 25 yards,” David Striet, the MAST Board President explained. “In the summers, some of our more advanced swimmers also swim for USA Swimming, which are your long-course meets, Olympic-style swimming.”
While Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin are representing their country in England, the next crop of USA Swimmers are training at Milford High School.
MAST is a year-round swim team that provides swimming opportunities for local kids from the ages of 6 to 18. Using the Milford High School natatorium, MAST is available for all levels of swimmers, so long as each person can swim a lap of the pool without needing assistance.
“We’re not swim lessons, but we have a program for everybody as long as your comfortable in the water,” Striet said. “We have had some success with kids transferring in and going into our advanced groups.”
The entire team, which numbers around 85 members, competes in the SOSL during the summer and has just recently competed in the SOSL Championship meet.
“We finished our (SOSL) Championship by coming in second to Mariemont by seven points,” Striet said. “Then, we had 18 of our swimmers qualify for the the Junior Olympic Meet up at Miami University. It was a long course meet. We had kids from ages nine to 12 up there swimming.”
The process to join the team is relatively simple, Striet explained and the team will be holding an open house on August 29 to allow new swimmers to join the team.
“(The open house) is at Milford High School and will be an informational night to find out more about the team, the various pricing structures and then if you’re interested, you can set up an appointment with the head coach where he can evaluate you.
“It’s not really a tryout, it’s really just to see which group we should place you in, whether that’s a beginner or advanced swimmer.”
The fees for MAST are very relative. Depending on how often a child swims, whether it be in meets or practices, the price is directly related. There are discounts for swimming year round as well as for multiple members of a family joining.
More advanced swimmers swim upwards of 10 hours a week, while some beginners only swim three or four hours a week.
“If you’re swimming less, you’re paying less,” Striet said. “It’s like buying a car. It depends on what options you’re doing and what meets you’re swimming in.”
In the upcoming fall season, MAST will host three meets at Milford, but depending on how much swimmers would like to compete, the team will be travelling and is looking at meets at Ohio State, Miami University and Bowling Green to give the participants a chance to swim in bigger pools and different arenas.
With the Olympics taking place and swimming in the forefront of sports fans’ minds, Striet said similar to 2008, MAST is expecting a spike in interest.
“After the 2008 Olympics we had a huge bump, we had one of our biggest teams ever with all the focus on swimming,” he said. “We’re seeing that again already this year. We’re hoping to get up to 120 swimmers for the fall.”
The fall season begins with the open house on August 29 and the first practice of the fall will be on September 10 with the season running through February with the Junior Olympic meet taking place in March for qualifiers.
For more information about MAST, how to join or get involved, visit their website at milfordswimming.org.