Diving into VPSU's Division 3

Contact Reporterkholtzman@vagazette.com

The Edgehill Eels' Virginia Peninsula Swim Union team features only one 3-year-old this summer, one that started the season clinging to a kickboard. Now, she is braving the full 25 yards by herself.

These sort of accounts, rather than which division their team resides in, matter most to Edgehill Eels team representative Laurel Garrelts.

Her Eels are in the third and final VPSU division, which this season also features the Kingspoint Dolphins, Indigo Park Stingrways, Village Green Patriots, Windsor Great Park Waves and Villages of Westminster Kraken.

Division 3 teams typically have a much smaller number of swimmers than the top flight and naturally, the meets are slightly less competitive and much less chaotic.

"To us, I don't think it matters where we're Division 1, 2 or 3," Garrelts said. "We're just trying to create that environment where kids are learning something."

Garrelts reminded that being Division 3 does not always equate to having a small group of swimmers. Edgehill, in Yorktown, has around 100 swimmers this summer and is tied atop the third division standings at 4-0 with Kingspoint.

Team representative Matt Polansky began swimming with Kingspoint at the age of 8 in 1972 and fondly recalled Kingspoint's days as a powerhouse in the Greater Peninsula Swimming Association.

Numbers at Kingspoint have been very cyclical, Polansky said, but now the community is currently enjoying a renovated club house and pool. Having a couple of former College of William and Mary swimmers to coach, Maria Oceguera and Jack Doherty, doesn't hurt, either; they lead a crew of about 60.

"We're looking forward to the next few seasons," Polansky said, "and just to a continuing strong team."

Kingspoint will host Edgehill Monday in a regular-season finale that will decide the division champion.

In the higher divisions, Division 2 Stonehouse also remains unbeaten along with Kingsmill and Kingswood.

"Some of these kids," Garrelts said, it's their first-time ever being in a scenario where they are competing and placing expectations on themselves to better their times and to learn something new. That's one of the reasons I love summer swim teams. When I think of VPSU, that's what I think it is."

Third-place Indigo Park started off 2-0 before earning its first loss to Edgehill two weeks ago.

One of the oldest teams around, Indigo Park is tucked away in the back corner of Stanley Drive near the intersection of John Tyler Highway and Highway 199. If you weren't looking for it, you'd never know it was there.

The Stingrays have 45 swimmers this summer including about a dozen high school swimmers, mostly from Lafayette and some from Jamestown.

Occasionally, times are still important, though, in a pool where legends once traversed the waters.

Olympic medalist Katie Hoff swam for Indigo Park as a youngster before moving away and the Stingrays watched a 42-year-old record drop last summer when Evan Utne swam 36.65 seconds in the boys 11-12 50 butterfly. He broke it again at the VPSU Championships meet later last season in 35.52 seconds.

"The Division 3 meets are all about the kids having fun, as are any of the divisions but it's a little less hectic I'd say," Indigo Park president Chris Swan said shortly before presiding over the Edgehill meet. "The kids can really have a good time but still compete and see some good swimming.

"They see top swimmers all the way down to kids who have never done it before. That's what's nice about it: everyone gets a chance and everyone is involved. It's all a part of the team spirit and the kids have fun. That's the bottom line."

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

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