Competitive swimming in Urbana is getting a boost.
The Urbana Park District is starting a year-round swimming program that will compete under the auspices of USA Swimming. The program, under the direction of Ed Morford, will begin practices May 1.
“From the park district standpoint, the year-round swimming team is the one piece left from having a very comprehensive aquatics program,” Morford said. “They’ve had pretty much everything shy of a year-round swimming team. We really wanted to be the leader in the community for all things aquatic and that was a big motivation for the park district.”
Morford said USA Swimming age-group teams “typically go from about 6 years old through high school,” though even college-age swimmers sometimes return to train during their college offseason.
The club will appeal to swimmers who seek a competitive environment with high-level training; Morford said “a majority” of high school-age swimmers are year-round competitors.
“I see us growing fairly quickly,” Morford said. “This is going to be a legitimate team, we’re going to train like a competitive USA Swimming team. My goals are pretty aggressive. I want to have swimmers, and will have swimmers, who will compete at the state and national levels.”
The Champaign Heat, which competes at the Stephens Family YMCA, also is a year-round swimming program. The Urbana club will train at the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center, with the exception of a “couple weeks when the indoor pool is closed” for maintenance and cleaning, Morford said.
More information about the program, its fees and requirements are available at the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center and the Phillips Recreation Center.
“The park district is really excited about this program. We’ve already committed to doing the best-quality job,” Morford said. “I really believe the community is ready for this team, and we’re just extremely excited about it. We think it’s going to make the park district’s aquatics the go-to place in town.”