By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
What a difference a year has made for the Quincy Family YMCA swim team.
Actually, not even a year.
Bethany Nannen Miller, the aquatics, youth and family director, says the YMCA's swim team has grown from nine members to 44 since it was reborn in January.
"Last year (at this time) was a bit of blur," she said.
Plans began being pieced together last fall to resurrect what was once a competitive swim program at the YMCA. By January, there were kids in the water -- not many, but enough for the husband-and-wife coaching tandem of Eldon and Michelle Frazier to begin molding a team.
"Lots has happened in the past year," Michelle Frazier said. "When we started, most of the kids we had did not really have a swimming background. Now we're getting kids with the swimming backgrounds."
The YMCA team now has so many swimmers -- with no signs of the growth subsiding -- that split practices are scheduled on weekdays. Older team members hit the pool at Quincy University from 5:30 to 7:15 a.m., with the younger candidates practicing from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the YMCA.
"It's a pleasant problem to have," Miller said. "We want this to become as big as it can become."
An $18,000 gift from an anonymous donor helped the YMCA buy needed equipment to host meets. The swim program also received a boost from a partnership with Quincy University. The partnership makes QU students eligible to join the YMCA swim team and train with the morning practice group. In turn, the YMCA has access to a second pool, and the QU swimming facility is more conducive to host meets.
The YMCA and QU pools are the same size (25-yard "competition"-style with six lanes), but the college facility has more room to host meets, especially for parents and spectators.
QU students are eligible to participate on the YMCA team, because the YMCA is affiliated with USA Swimming, which permits older participants. QU students are not eligible to compete in YMCA-sanctioned meets.
"I get to meet a lot of (new) friends," 9-year-old Y swimmer Emilee Gorrell said. "The meets are the most fun."
Emilee's 11-year-old brother, Travis, also is on the team.
"I've been swimming about five years. ... It makes me feel energetic," he said.
Miller said the Fraziers, who live in Canton, Mo., were perfect selections to oversee the swim team. They have a rich background as triathletes and have competed in an array of athletic challenges.
"We're kind of competitive," Michelle Frazier said with a smile.
The Fraziers have three children -- Lauren, 11, Kyle, 9, and Tyler, 6 -- on the team and helped form the original core of nine. Frazier said she and her husband had been searching for the right of program for their own kids and had grown to appreciate what the YMCA stood for through the years. She felt the Y's emphasis on the individual athlete while providing a competitive arena was a perfect mix.
"Swimming is an individual sport," Frazier said. "You get out of it what you put into it."
Moses Calkins, 11, has been with the team since its inception. He likes to talk about how he enjoys being involved, from the practices to the meets, even the traveling.
"Once we got to eat at a steakhouse," Calkins said. "We also got to stay in a motel."
The partnership between Miller and the Fraziers has worked out well. Miller has been with the YMCA since 2011 and was formerly an assistant coach for the Sheridan swim team. She also is a Level 2 American Swimming Coaches Association-certified coach. Miller's expertise, coupled with the Fraziers' knowledge and passion, has been the perfect mix.
"Eldon and Michelle came to me and wanted to start the swim team," Miller said.
The original goal was to have 20 kids involved by the end of the first year.
Mission accomplished -- and then some.
• For more information about the YMCA swim team, call Bethany Nannen Miller at (217) 222-9622, ext. 215, or go to quincyswimteam.com.