STURGIS | In its third year of existence, the Sturgis Stingrays swim team continues to grow in number of participants.
"This summer we have 22 swimmers," said coach Daniel Ainisle. "We had over 30 swimmers last winter. The numbers are significantly up.
"We're just starting our third year," he said.
Ainslie and his wife were involved in swimming and water polo at their previous home in California.
"We decided to start a swimming team here and make it very affordable," he said. "Swimming teaches hard work and dedication."
Current team members include Manny Jaramillo, Nathan Ainslie, Dylan Chamley, Carter Jones, Christian Ainslie, Aaron Ainslie, Keegan Jones, Mary Anne Ainslie, Noree Hammerstrom, Max Hinek, Gaven Petrick, Mya Bradley, Reese Sazame, Javier Jaramillo, Jayden Chamley, Eian Stetser, Owen Hale, Andon Hammerstrom, Dylan Hammerstrom, Marin Hammerstrom, Sully Sigman and Landon Carstenson.
The South Dakota Long Course state meet is July 25-27 in Sioux Falls.
Stingrays state qualifiers and events currently include Noree Hammerstrom — girls nine-10 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 50 back, 100 back, 50 fly, 100 fly; Keegan Jones — boys 11-12 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly, 100 fly, 200 individual medley; Manny Jaramillo — Boys 11-12 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly; Nathan Ainslie — boys 11-12 50 breast stroke, 100 breast stroke; Aaron Ainslie — boys 50 free, 100 free, 50 breast stroke, 100 breast stroke.
Jaramillo is entering his second year of swimming. "I love to swim. Butterfly and freestyle are my favorite events," he said.
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"I've been swimming since a young age," said Jones. "It's fun to compete. The 50 fly and 100 individual medley are my favorite events."
"This is my third year of swimming," said Aaron Ainslie. "My parents got me into swimming. The 200 individual medley is my favorite event."
Hammerstrom is in her second year of swimming. "I like getting in the water and doing the back stroke. I like all the events, especially the back stroke."
"We're happy we have five kids make it to state," said Daniel Ainslie. "We have several other kids close to qualifying for state. Hopefully, four other swimmers can make it."
The Stingrays have a last-chance qualifier meet at Newcastle, Wyo., on Saturday.
"The team is melding well," said Ainslie. "I'm big about pushing kids to achieve personal records."
To help defray expenses, team members work concessions at the weekly Music on Main events on Wednesday nights in downtown Sturgis.
"It's great to see the kids involved. We raised money for equipment to host a meet this fall," said Ainslie.