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PSC Highpoint combines fun with competitive swimming

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Summer is a time for fun in the sun.
And that’s how it is for the Philadelphia Sports Club Highpoint swim team. The Stingrays combine fun with competitive swimming to bring out the best in each swimmer.
Newcomer Ruth Kim is enjoying her first year with the program.
“It was a good decision for me to come here,” said Kim, 12, who is entering seventh grade at Pennfield Middle School. “I’m swimming well. The coaches have helped me a lot. I also like how everyone on the team is really close. It’s a good combination of team spirit, fun and competitiveness.”
Head coach Sean Kelly would agree with that.
“We try to balance being fun with introducing the kids to the sport of swimming,” said Kelly, now in his 25th year of coaching the team. “That’s the heart of our program.
“It’s a family, it’s tradition. The focus of our summer program is drill and techniques and creating that passion and love for the sport. It’s so much fun on summer nights. Everyone’s just sitting around the pool and enjoying great races.
“We’ve had a lot of improvement. We had a lot of personal best times at our Richboro meet we’re trying to get these kids to have that special race, but more importantly they’re making memories with their friends. That’s what summer swimming is about.”
For many swimmers, it’s an opportunity to continue swimming competitively with fewer constraints.
“It’s more relaxed and there’s less pressure,” said Abigail Chayka, 13, who attends Unami Middle School. “It’s a fun place to be in the summer. Not having all that pressure helps me love the sport more.”
Swimmers work their way up from the bronze group to the silver to the platinum and Kelly has added a new group, the developmental Ducks.
“Our Ducks are typically 4 to 6 years old and they’re loving it,” he said. “Our goal with those kids is that we want them to move into the bronze and become a part of our swimming family, hopefully for the next 14-15 years.”
For some of the older swimmers, working with the Ducks is the best part of the team.
“I’ve been working with the Ducks and the bronze group for about a month and a half and it’s been great,” said Maddie Majewski, 14, who is entering her freshman year at Central Bucks West. “Getting to know the younger swimmers is the best part. They’re the future of our swim team, and I like to think I’m helping them get to the next step.
“This is their first taste of competitive swimming and I want to encourage them and help them see all the good parts of swimming. When we’re at meets and I see the younger kids do well and get excited about their times, that just makes it so special for me.”
At age 6, Caroline Kelly is one of the youngest swimmers.
“I’ve been swimming for two years now,” said Kelly, a first grader at Patricia A. Guth Elementary School. “I started because I like swimming and I’ve been around the pool a lot. I really like being in the bronze group. I’m learning a lot and it’s so much fun, even when I don’t swim fast.”
Many competitive swimmers got their start at PSC Highpoint.
“This is where I really got into swimming,” said Olivia Kazloff, 14, who will be a freshman at Central Bucks West in the fall. “I started out in the bronze group about five years ago and worked my way up to platinum. It’s really a feeling of accomplishment when you move up.”
PSC Highpoint provides variety for the more experienced swimmers.
“I like that we have so many different ages on the team and that we can have boys and girls swimming together on relays,” said Abby Fee, 15, a sophomore at Central Bucks South. “You can’t do that in high school.

“You get to work with people that you usually don’t have a chance to see, and spend some time with them. It’s great to see the different communities coming together and see kids from all different schools becoming friends.”
The program also works on stroke proficiency.
“I’ve come a long way as a swimmer here,” Fee said. “I started off not being able to swim butterfly and now I’m a lot better at it.”
Gianna Bevivino, 15, also began her swimming career at PSC Highpoint.
“This was definitely my introduction to competitive swimming,” said Bevivino, a sophomore at Central Bucks South. “It was a good start for me. I like the team and I like how everyone’s a big family. It’s good motivation.
“It’s fun as an older swimmer to see the younger ones go from Ducks, when they could barely get across the pool, to doing 25 (yards) and 50. You remember when you were one of them.”
For Mikayla Varlaro, 15, the meets are a nice break from high school competitions.
“There’s a huge difference between these meet and high school meets,” said Varlaro, a sophomore at Central Bucks West. “These are more relaxed and they’re so much fun. I especially like having the younger kids on the team. They really make it fun for everyone.”
For some swimmers, this is the final tweak before they begin their high school swimming careers.
Annalise Carlson, 14, is headed into her freshman year at Villa Joseph Marie, where she plans to swim.
“I know high school is going to be a totally different experience, especially because I’m going to an all-girls school, but I’ll still get the experience of being on a co-ed team here,” she said. “I’ve been here about six years and Coach Kelly has taught me a lot and critiqued me so I know my strokes are good and I know how to swim races. I feel like I’m ready for high school swimming.”
Teammate Emily McMenamin, 14, is preparing for a very different experience as she heads toward her freshman year at perennial powerhouse North Penn.
“North Penn is a really good program and it’s a big step for me but I feel ready for it,” she said. “I came to this last year and I’m very happy. Coach Kelly gave me a ton of confidence as a swimmer and that’s going to be really good for me.”
Amora Tomlinson, 14, has been swimming for seven years, following the path of her older sister, Athena.
“She was a big swimmer and I looked up to her,” said Tomlinson, a student at Unami Middle School. “She’s now a big track star. I got really passionate about swimming and when she quit, I wanted to continue. I’ve worked hard and I’m seeing the results and that’s really exciting.”
Former Stingrays swimmer Adam Jordan is now a member of the coaching staff.
“I swam here for 10 years starting when I was 9,” said Jordan, a 2016 graduate of North Penn. “I’ve been coaching for four years so of my 23 summers, 14 have been spent here and I’ve only missed one meet.
“We usually have a bunch of swimmers who come back and coach so for me it was an easy transition to go from a swimmer to a coach. It’s like an integrated family.”
Jordan is currently pursuing a master’s degree in higher education at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Summer coaching is a great fit for me right now,” he said. “I really enjoy coaching so there’s the potential for me to continue since I’m planning a career in education.”
The Stingrays compete in the Red Division of the Lower Bucks Swim League. Divisional championships will be held on Saturday at Somerton. League championships are scheduled for Tuesday at Lower Makefield Township.


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