Weeks of early morning practice should pay dividends for Payson Pikes swim team members July 9 when they host Camp Verde at Taylor Pool. Start time is 8 a.m.
Since the season began June 1 at a parent meeting, the splash squad has been tuning up its aquatic skills in weekday sessions beginning at 6:30 a.m.
Under the tutelage of lifeguards Tina Jackson and Jadyn Walden, the young swimmers have learned the nuances of the backstroke, freestyle, butterfly and breaststroke.
According to Walden, a longtime team member herself, the young swimmers are shaping up.
"They are a good group to work with," she said.
Among the standouts that have caught the attention of the coaches are 8-year-old Julie Gibson and 6-year-old Jake Beeler.
"Both are really good," Jackson said. "They should do well (against Camp Verde)."
In the July 9 meet, the team members will compete in age/sex groups against one another and members of the visiting CV team.
The meet will be the second of the summer season for the Pikes. June 18, the Payson team opened by hosting Cottonwood-Mingus.
Also on the agenda for the team members is a July 15 clash against Sedona at Taylor Pool as well as the Kingman Invitational (July 9), the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association Invitational (July 30 at Arizona State University) and the Verde Valley Invitational (July 31 in Cottonwood).
The final three meets on the schedule are out-of-town competitions which the parks and recreation department does not sanction. Team members who chose to travel to those meets must do so with their parents or guardians.
The season wraps up July 25 with a potluck from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Ramada 5, with a pool party at Taylor Pool following until 8:30 p.m.