May 26, 2009 — There were tears of joy, disappointment and nervousness at the St. Croix Dolphins 27th annual Dolphins Invitational Swim Meet held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Country Day School.
I'm happy I won, but I was trying to break the pool record and wanted to do better, said Dolphins team member Brigette Rasmussen, 15, as tears welled up in her eyes after finishing the 200 meter breaststroke. Rassmussen is a student at Country Day School.
Also swimming in the race two lanes over was Reena Tarver, shedding tears before she dove in the water.
I get really nervous before every race, said Tarver, 12, also a student at Country Day, as she rubbed away her tears.
The St. Croix Dolphins hosted the meet, attended by eight students from the St. Thomas Stingrays team, nine students from the St. Maarten Super Splash team and three students from the St. Eustatius Stingrays team. The Dolphins had 64 young athletes racing.
The St. Croix team came in first overall as it has the past three years. St. Thomas was second, St. Maarten third and St. Eustatius was fourth.
Head coach Kevin Tyrrell said the Dolphins start training in September for the meet. They prepare a long time with a lot of hard work, practicing strokes to be efficient, Tyrrell said.
According to the invitational committee team, participation from visiting islands was down this year.
We had invited more islands to participate but the scare over the swine flu kept them home, said Miguelina Ojeda, invitational committee and board member.
One of those teams that did fly to St. Croix was the St. Eustatius Stingrays team.
We had so much fun last year we wanted to come again this year, said Tina Smith, coach of the St. Eustatius team. People here are so helpful we plan on making new friends.
But, friendships aside, the competition remains a tough athletic event.
After I give it my all, I have to fight tiredness at the end, said Sasha Klein, a 9 year-old from Antilles School on St. Thomas. Klein, who has been a winner in her age group the last two years, added, I know when I get to the wall, I will get a rest.
The Dolphins are under the St. Croix Swimming Association that was founded 35 years ago. The association has had participants in every Olympics since 1976.
The organization has helped develop athletes with the added benefit of teaching adults and children how to swim and be safe in the water. According to the organization's literature, it has taught over 1,000 people in the community to swim, among them National Basketball Association superstar Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs.
It has a public school program that reaches out to students in the third and fourth grade at Ricardo Richards, Eulalie Rivera and Charles H. Emmanuel elementary schools.
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