By JAMIE BAKER
This year’s Flag City Invitational swim meet will be bigger and better than ever.
The 32nd annual meet hosted by the Findlay Area Swim Team is scheduled to take place at Riverside Park Pool Friday through Sunday.
This year’s meet had 468 entries as of mid-week, which is up substantially from the last several years, according to the meet’s entries chair Mary Jo Geise.
The additional swimmers should make for a much more competitive meet which has FAST head coach Andrew Sellers a little excited to see what the weekend brings.
“Last I heard we were up 100 and some swimmers from last year. For us that’s really cool to have more competitors here,” Sellers said Tuesday as he was supervising practice at Riverside Park.
“We have a few more clubs from Indiana coming in. We have started supporting the Fort Wayne area a little bit by competing in a couple of meets in that area and some of those teams are reciprocating by coming here.”
FAST will be the second-largest team competing in the meet. The club will have 49 athletes, 28 girls and 21 boys, competing in 411 individual races and 30 relays. Only Westerville Aquatic Club, which topped FAST for last year’s team title, has more swimmers competing.
While there are more swimmers competing in this year’s Flag City Invitational, the quality of competition is much better as well.
“We have some swimmers from other teams coming in with junior national cuts, we’ve never had that before. Some of the other teams are bringing in some lower-level national kids too for the older divisions,” Sellers said.
“This meet has always had a pretty good reputation for having some very good top end 10-, 11- and 12-year old swimmers. Teams want to come here and compete because they know those age groups are fairly strong here.”
With a more competitive field in this year’s meet, Sellers is excited to see if his FAST swimmers can kick it up a notch.
“It’s completely changed this year. In years past we have always thought let’s just compete and see what we can do. This year, the level is so much higher in this meet than in years past, we’re hoping our kids can step up against some tougher competition they’ll face,” Sellers said.
“Hopefully, it will be a good weekend for our kids to swim fast. I love seeing our swimmers compete against some of the other teams from around our region. Today we talked a little about a protect this house kind of deal. This is our home pool, this is our one opportunity for us to compete at home and let’s go out and show everyone what we can do.”
This weekend’s Flag City Invitational is one of two meets FAST will be hosting at the Riverside Park Pool.
With the pool at Bowling Green State University closed for renovations, FAST will host a regional championship meet with more than 700 swimmers July 11-13.
The Flag City Invitational gets underway with two sessions on Friday at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s sessions begin at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
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