Aqua Tigers ready for new challenge
by SARALYN NORKUS Banner Sports Writer
Jun 01, 2014 | 867 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Aqua Tigers
A GROUP of young Cleveland Aqua Tigers receives instruction during a practice session at Tinsley Park. Submitted photo, CHRIS WEIR
view slideshow (3 images)
Last season the Cleveland Aqua Tigers had their first undefeated campaign in eight years. This season, former assistant coach Mark Garaguso is taking over as head coach of the Aqua Tigers. Due to their perfect season, CAT has advanced from the Red Division of the Chattanooga Area Swim League to the Blue Division. According to Coach Garaguso, the change in CASL divisions will prove challenging for the Aqua Tigers. “We’re going to be up against really stiff competition. Two of the teams (Signal Mountain and Dalton, Ga.), have national qualifiers. There is actually a junior national champion on the Signal Mountain team,” Garaguso explained. “As of right now we are the underdogs, but I think we can put up some good competition against them.” Last year CAT had well over a hundred swimmers, and has a good deal of its former swimmers returning this season. “We have a lot of returning swimmers that have been with us for a few years,” Garaguso commented. “There were 127 swimmers last year, and right now we are sitting on 94. Seventy returned from last year and those are the kids who will stick with it for years.” Something new that CAT is doing this season is offering swimming lessons. “We’re doing swim lessons for the first time, so we have a lot of new faces in the [age] 8-and-under swimmers,” Garaguso said. “Currently we have 17 kids learning how to swim with an instructor.” Coach Garaguso has a number of swimmers he expects will post impressive performances this summer. Benjamin Cooper, Nelson Chung and Jason Chung are poised for success in senior boys competition, while twin sisters Lauren and Meredith Borst show promise in senior girls competition. In the 13-14 year old division, Logan Stutzman and Joey Anderson are two boys to watch, along with Catherine McKay and Chloe McNelly in the girls division. Kylee Weir, Anna Thompson, Breanna Belcher and Grayson Payne will be competing in the 11-12 girls division, which is considered the Aqua Tigers’ best age group by Garaguso. Logan VanHook and Trey Parris should win some valuable points in the boys 11-12 group as well. For the 9-10 girls, Lauren Thompson and Ginger Everley are expected to lead the way, with Jacob McDaniel, Devin Frakes, Spencer Payne and Grayson Officer slated to do well for the 9-10 boys. With their first swim meet coming up Monday, the Aqua Tigers have been hard at work practicing at the Tinsley Park pool. “We’ve been focusing on breast stroke and butterfly with our newest kids to get them familiar with the strokes so that they can compete as soon as possible,” Garaguso stated. “For the older kids, we’ve been mostly going right into it and trying to get them in shape, due to our short, eight-week season. Most of them have taken three months off and some haven’t swum since last summer.” On Monday, CAT will travel south to Georgia for their first meeting with the Dalton Dolphins at 5:30 p.m. The Aqua Tigers continue on with their tough competition schedule Thursday, making the climb to take on the Signal Mountain Green Giants. Their first home swim meet will be on June 9, when the Stuart Heights Sharks come to Tinsley Park.