For some swimmers, Olympic aspirations transpire at Shield Park Pool in Seymour.
Two former Olympians and a handful of Olympic qualifiers have tested their skills at the annual Pepsi Plunge in their youth swimming days.
This weekend, nearly 600 swimmers from elementary to high school and from across the state — making up 26 teams — flocked to the pool to compete in the 26th annual event.
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John Newhouse, coach of the Seadragons from South Dearborn and Lawrenceburg, has brought his teams to Seymour since 1991.
“I think that the pool still looks great,” Newhouse said. “The pool is clean; it’s a great facility. They keep it up really nice. We enjoy it — Seymour is a lot smaller than where we’re from, and to have a facility like this is tremendous. I wish we had something like it in our town.
“This is the fourth different team I’ve been with at this meet, and it’s always circled on the calendar. We stay in the hotels in Seymour. It’s a nice little town; there are a lot of things in Seymour that you wouldn’t think they have. It’s really easy to access for everyone visiting.”
Seymour brought in an estimated $80,000 to $100,000 thanks to the Pepsi Plunge.
Dave Boggs, head swimming and diving coach at Seymour High School, and his wife, Chris, have put on the event every year in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation department.
“This has a big impact on the city,” Boggs said. “People are staying at the hotels and stopping by shops and restaurants. It’s a big financial plus. I think it also helps promote Seymour. Parks and Rec does a great job helping us prepare for this meet making sure we put our best foot forward.”
Last year, the Pepsi Plunge set a record by hosting 717 swimmers.
While numbers are down in 2016, Boggs said he expects next year’s event to grow in part due to the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“Numbers are down with everyone a little bit, but with the Olympics this year we will have a bump,” Boggs said. “Numbers will be up. When (Seymour’s) Patrick Calhoun made it in 2000 we had around 60 sign-ups, and 40 of them were boys. Some of those boys became All-American swimmers.”
This year, the group age and senior state meets will swim on the same dates.
“This year, because it’s an Olympics year, they go to Swimfest,” Boggs said. “They combine age group state and senior state for one big meet. The age groupers will go to the Natatorium (at IUPUI) for prelims and the seniors go to Pike High School. It’s a Thursday through Sunday meet.”
Seymour’s Jonas Hildreth, 10, competed for the second time at the meet.
“It’s fun, and I like meeting new people and seeing my friends,” Hildreth said. “It’s a competitive sport, I like that there are so many events to choose from. I swam a lot better than I did last year.”
Gabriella Parisi, 10, likes challenging herself in the pool.
“Even though I get extremely nervous for a lot of these races, I know that once I get in the water that I can beat a lot of these people,” Parisi said. “I just want to improve my time and swim against myself. I like setting goals for myself, and the feeling when you actually make them: it’s like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m awesome.’”
Isabell Knotts said she enjoyed the atmosphere of the meet.
“The best part is you get to make friends while also swimming,” she said. This is my second time here, and I like competing.”
Those from Seymour advancing past the Pepsi Plunge included:
Swimmers with Divisional cuts
Mary Kate Pritchett
Swimmers with Swimfest cuts