Danielle Monroe plays soccer and volleyball.
But when summer rolls around, the 11-year-old is in the pool before hitting the court or the pitch during the school year.
While some of the Yuma Sandsharks youth team compete in swimming year round, a majority of the swimmers compete in it as a summer recreational activity.
“I just love it, it’s so fun,” Monroe said. “And I’m very competitive, so I just love swimming.”
The Sandsharks hosted Imperial and Calipatria Tuesday at Marcus Pool, rolling to a 949 point finish, topping Imperial’s 480 and Calipatria’s 211.
Coach Max Cristofori said the win gets the team warmed up for next week’s showdown against rival Brawley.
“We had a lot of kids out of town, obviously, for the Fourth of July week, so to still bring 75 to this meet is a really good sign,” he said. “The Brawley one is definitely going to be a tougher contest. They already beat us when we went up to their house, now they’re coming to our pool.
Further down the final list, away from multi race winners, are swimmers like Monroe and Maly Larios-Flores, who don’t compete for the Yuma Heat — the year-round, competitive arm of Yuma Aquatics. They just compete with the more relaxed, summer only Sandsharks.
“My mom started swimming when she was 6,” Larios-Flores said. “I really like swimming, so when I was like 7 I started swimming a lot. Then she put me in (Sandsharks) last year, so that motivated me.”
Larios-Flores said swimming may be a bigger part of her future.
“I’m thinking about joining the Heat,” said the 11- year-old. “(Being with the Sandsharks) helped me a lot.”
Cristofori said in the end, that’s the ultimate goal.
“She talked to us about (joining the Heat), and that’s the whole goal of the Sandsharks — to get kids interested and fall in love with the sport and do it more,” Cristofori said. “This league is all about fun, and all about improving and getting better."
Cristofori also said that the Sandsharks try to teach that hard work is fun — hard work leads to winning races, and winning is fun.
Larios-Flores best finish Tuesday was seventh in 50 breaststroke, just .01 behind Calipatria’s Obrie Johnson in the second heat. Monroe took third in that event in 44.11, and also took third in the 50 butterfly in 32.71, just behind Sydney Tunell — one of the year-round swimmers.
“It’s hard, but it’s really fun,” Monroe said. “I know they swim year-round and I just try to get better and better to keep up with them.”
Monroe said she plans on sticking with her three sports instead of focusing on swimming like Larios-Flores. But Cristofori said making sure the children fall in love with swimming is the first goal.
“The ultimate goal for us coaches is to get the kids to love this sport; to get the kids to appreciate the sport, to understand swimming is fun and swimming might be something they want to do year-round,” Cristofori said. “It’s fine if they just do it in the summer and keep coming back. As long as they’re having a good time and they view swimming as a lifetime sport.”
Taylor Curlin had a trio of wins for the Sandsharks (31.85 seconds in the 6-and-under, 25-yard butterfly, 26.86 in 25 backstroke and 37.46 in the 25 breaststroke), as did Daniel Lines in the 7-8 25 butterfly (21.53), 25 breaststroke (27.59) and 25 free (17.53).
Blakelee Lines won the 9-10 50 butterfly (47.33), 50 breaststroke (51.25) and 50 free (36.48) and Joseph Lines was victorious in the 9-10 50 butterfly (40.57), 50 back (42.98) and 50 breaststroke (46.07). Sydney Tunell won the 11-12 50 butterfly (31.71), 50 back (32.17) and 50 free (29.38).
Talen Osborn joined the list of three-time winners with victories in the 11-12 50 butterfly (33.00), 50 back (36.17) and 50 free (29.54), while Kepmton Osborn had three wins (13-14 50 butterfly, 31.13; 50 breaststroke, 34.87; 50 free, 27.10) and Logan Osborn had two wins (50 back) and one second (15-18 50 butterfly, 28.01, 1.12 seconds behind the winner Donnie Buthmann of the Sandsharks). Teal Edholm won the 7-8 25 backstroke (24.48), the 25 breaststroke (26.81) and 25 free (19.91).