By Carin R. Kirkegaard; photos courtesy of Cari Ogg and Justin Day
Local Castle Pines swim team, the Castle Crocs, ended the summer swim season and celebrated a decade of bringing the community together and developing its youth through swimming.
More than 20 new swimmers joined old veterans and moved up in the ranks of the Mountain High Swim League to the A2 Division. Bragging rights for the season included 30 all star swimmers. To be an all star, a swimmer must swim an individual event under a specified time cutoff. These swimmers compete with all swimmers across the league in a special all star meet at the end of the season. In addition, the Crocs 7-8 year-old girls and 11-12 year-old boys went home as their age group division champions. Nine swimmers also took home first place medals in their individual events at the championship meet.
The Crocs started 10 summers ago with a group of moms looking for a local summer activity for their kids. With some help from the Castle Pines Village Stingrays an idea became a reality. The hope 10 years ago was to build an organization that would provide an environment for community children that promoted a healthy fun recreational experience that emphasized fair play, sportsmanship and team effort. With these big concepts in mind the team grew in numbers and has been awarded the Sportsmanship Award by the division for several years.
“It feels like we accomplished what we set out to do when, win or lose, our swimmers always look to shake the hands of the kid in the lane next them,” said Colette Celecki, founding board member. “It’s not only the kids,” Celecki continued “it’s the parents as well. Every summer families reconnect with swim team friends. Home meets in the community are like a summer pool party, your kids are swimming and the parents are talking and catching up on the past year. Life-long family friends are made at the pool.”
The Crocs 2015 season ends on a bittersweet note. Head Coach Paul Whitaker will be retiring. “We have been incredibly lucky to have Paul as our coach for the past seven years. His swimming experience and gift for working with kids is exceptional, and he will be missed,” said Castle Crocs parent representative Cari Ogg.
The Crocs didn’t look far for a replacement coach. Assistant Coach Kendra Hudgen will step into the head coach role next season.
Hudgen will be the first “homegrown” head coach for the Crocs. Developing the local community youth has always been a priority for the Crocs. From the first season there has been a junior coaching program for interested swimmers. Under the program, swimmers are mentored and for many this is their first job and their first role taking on responsibility as leaders.
“I am beyond thrilled to continue as part of the Crocs family. It is amazing to see kids I coached when they were six and younger heading to college and coaching alongside me! I am ready and excited to take on this new role,” said Hudgen.
The Crocs would like to extend a word of gratitude and thanks to all the local community businesses that have sponsored the team over the past 10 years, including this year’s sponsors: HOA2 and CPN II homeowners associations, who have offered the use of their pools; Little Italy for donating personal pizzas to swimmers who improved their times as well as running concessions for all the home meets; Colorado Kids Pediatric Dentistry; Brandon Linn Orthodontics; Eat Well Embrace Life; and Castle Pines Orthodontics.
To learn more about the Castle Crocs, visit www.castlecrocs.com.