Ocean Pines Swim Team Reaching New Heights; Members To Compete In State Championships

Ocean Pines Swim Team Reaching New Heights; Members To Compete In State Championships
Members of the Ocean Pines Swim Team are pictured last summer. Submitted Photo

OCEAN PINES – Nearly 40 swimmers will represent the Ocean Pines Swim Team in state championship meets beginning next week.

Throughout the month of March, 39 registered swimmers with the Ocean Pines Swim Team (OPST) will conclude their season in a series of championship meets throughout Maryland.

“This year is definitely the most we’ve had going to championship meets …,” said head coach Kristina Watts.

From Feb. 28 through March 3, two OPST swimmers will participate in the Maryland Swimming 14 and Under State Championships at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Swimmers had to beat the qualifying times and meet the age requirements to attend the competition.

The next week, seven team swimmers will return to St. Mary’s for the Maryland Swimming Junior State Championships. This meet is for all swimmers 9 years and older who qualified for the time standards but slower than the State Championship time standards.

On March 16-17, 14 OPST swimmers who did not qualify for either the state championships or junior state championships will attend the Maryland Swimming B Championships at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The final two meets will be held on March 23-24 at the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Md. Six team swimmers will participate in the 9-10 B Championships, while 10 team swimmers will compete in the Maryland Swimming 8 and Under Championships.

“All season these kids are trying to qualify for the March championships,” said Joy Fink, a member of the team’s board of directors. “It’s exciting to see our little Ocean Pines team compete on a state level.”

The OPST – a nonprofit governed by a board of directors and led by its coaches – provides competitive swimming opportunities for children between the ages of 4 and 18, and is where many of the current Stephen Decatur High School swimmers began competitive swimming at high levels.

The team is a member of USA Swimming – the national governing body of competitive swimming – and competes locally as a member of the Maryland Local Swimming Community.

“We are one of the few USA Swimming teams on the shore,” Watts said. “We have them go to higher tier meets and they get more exposure.”

Fink said OPST started as a summer league in 1975, but the organization has since grown to include year-round programs.

In the current season, which runs from September to March, 85 registered swimmers competed in short course competitions held at natatoriums around the state.

“Being on the shore, we do not have a lot of competition pools around here,” Fink said. “A lot of families travel to meets across the bridge on the weekends, and this year we’ve had the most families participating in these meets.”

With the current season wrapping up, Watts said OPST will soon hold evaluations for its summer team, which competes in the Delmarva Swim Association (DSA) league. The past two summers, OPST has been undefeated in their dual meet season, and last year the team finished second at the DSA Championship Meet.

Officials said the summer season is a chance for swimmers to learn the sport and perhaps choose to pursue competitive swimming year-round.

“It’s an amazing sport that builds self-confidence and personal growth,” Fink said. “Every meet they go to they see individual achievement, as well as team achieve. It becomes a passion.”

Watts agreed.

“I have seen our swimmers grow as individuals since they’ve joined the team,” she said. “They’ve become leaders.”

The OPST will hold evaluations for its summer season on March 25-28 from 6-7 p.m. at the Ocean Pines Sports Core Pool. Coaches will evaluate swimmers in the pool, and parents will have an opportunity to talk to the coaches, meet team parents and learn more about competitive swimming.

Drop-ins are welcome, but officials encouraged those interested in attending evaluations to email [email protected].

For more information on the Ocean Pines Swim Team, visit www.opsthammerheads.org.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.