By KEVIN SAULS
The Tuolumne Rec Swim Club is making a splash in its first season.
Sponsored by the Tuolumne County Recreation Department, the club has grown from only a couple members to about 40 since it was founded in June by Annie Alesna, the head coach, and Eric Aitken, the recreation supervisor in charge of aquatics, with the help of Sonora High School swim coach LaDeane Hansten.
"We waited it out, and all of a sudden it's just grown," Alesna said.
"It's gone better than I thought it would," Aitken said. "It's doing really well."
"They're off," Hansten said, "to a really good start."
Alesna said the club's function is to prepare its members for the rigors of competitive swimming while throwing in large doses of fun in the form of other aquatic activities like water polo, diving and various water games.
"A little big of everything," she said.
The club has a wide range of ages and abilities. Some of its members are 7 years old and some are adults. Some of them are first-time swimmers and some are, in Alesna's words, "exceptional athletes."
Her coaching emphasis, she said, is on stroke development.
"The stroke has to be easy for the kids," she said. "Otherwise, swimming's not very fun."
Alesna, 29, has eight years' coaching experience, most of it "off and on" with the established and highly successful Tuolumne County Aquatics program. It was TCA's move from Sonora Pool, which the recreation department operates during the summer, to a new pool at Sonora Sport and Fitness Center that gave the recreation club enough lanes and "pool time" to get started.
The club practices from 7:30 to 9:30 every weekday morning.