About 40-plus Payson Pikes swim team members splash into action at 6 p.m. today, June 7, in an all-important intrasquad meet at Taylor Pool.
Participation is crucial, said team coach and pool manager Sean Ford, because “we will use it (the individual results) to get our prelim times.”
Those will later be used to seed swimmers into five meets throughout the summer season.
Those meets are:
• Saturday, June 15 vs. Sedona at Taylor Pool (8:30 a.m. warm-up; 9 a.m. start)
• Friday, June 21 vs. RIO and Val Vista Lakes at McClintock Pool (5:30 p.m. warm-up; 6 p.m. start)
• Saturday, June 29 vs. Prescott Swim Team at Taylor Pool (8:30 a.m. warm-up; 9 a.m. start)
• Saturday, July 13 vs. Cottonwood Clippers at Taylor Pool (8:30 a.m. warm-up; 9 a.m. start).
• Saturday, July 20 vs. East Valley League at McClintock Pool (8:30 a.m. warm-up; 9 a.m. start)
Although the past week’s turnout for the team is not what it was in earlier years with100-plus aspiring swimmers, Ford called the numbers good and a bit more than last year.
“We still have swimmers who have been on vacations just now coming out,” he said.
While the field of swimmers is well spread out through the various age groups, the coach expects the 8- to 12-year-olds to be formidable.
Practices began on May 28 and will continue Monday through Thursday the remainder of the summer season.
The intermediate group — experienced swimmers who can swim all four strokes — practice from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
The novice group — entry-level swimmers who can swim freestyle and backstroke — practice from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
The Pikes have a rich history in Payson beginning with the tenure of current PUSD school board member Jim Quinlan, who founded the team in 1986.
When Quinlan arrived on the scene, there was no swim team and Taylor was struggling under a hit-and-miss management scheme, partly because the pool was newly built.
Quinlan took over with years of aquatic experience, as a former prep swimmer, high school and club coach and municipal manager.
“He brought a lot of expertise with him when he came in,” said Tim Fruth, a former Payson High vice principal and town counselor. “I don’t know if there was another man who would have come to Payson with the knowledge he had.”
Quinlan remembers that many who swam for the Pikes or worked at Taylor had other summer responsibilities.
“Some were playing Little League or were in high school sports, but most usually found a way to work out in the morning,” he said. “They had full schedules.”
In resigning as Taylor Pool manager in 2003 to teach classes at Gila Community College, Quinlan did so knowing throngs of young swimmers held a special place in their hearts for the Pikes.
Austin White, now 35, was one of Quinlan’s greatest success stories. “Mr. Quinlan taught me so much there (at Taylor),” White said. “I learned to love (aquatics) from him.”
After learning to swim at Taylor and becoming a member of the Pikes team, White went on to become a lifeguard, water safety instructor, team coach and eventually, the pool manager.
In 2007, White stepped down from his teaching and coaching career at Payson High School to realize his lifelong dream of becoming a SeaWorld trainer. He also worked for a defense department contractor to train marine animals for underwater surveillance of warships in San Diego harbor.
Public swim opportunities
Taylor Pool has open swim from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; adult group swim is from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., Monday and Thursday; water aerobics is from 9:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., Monday and Wednesday; lap swim is from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Taylor Pool is located at 504 N. McLane Road.
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