Year-round swimming arrives in Cabarrus

Hubert Williams wanted to start his own competitive swim team for years.

After much consideration and a partnership with the Cannon Memorial YMCA, the longtime coach has been able to reach that dream, forming the Sailfish Aquatics program.

The team, which will operate out of the West Cabarrus Y in Concord, is the first in Cabarrus County to be offered year-round.

Williams, who's been at the helm of the Northwest Cabarrus High and Northwest Swim Club's Tigersharks summer team programs since 2004, said he's seen the interest for a local team.

He's also experienced firsthand how taxing the lack of a local year-round program can be, having to drive his son and daughter, both swimmers, to Davidson or Huntersville - about a 40-mile round trip - every day for swim team practice growing up.

"That just demonstrates there's a real need in the community," he said.

West Cabarrus YMCA executive director Elizabeth Lindsey, who has worked with Williams to form the partnership for the past few months, agreed.

"It's always been on our radar to have a year-round competitive swim team," she said, explaining that many of the more than 8,000 members at her branch have to travel out of the county to swim competitively.

The Y has a summer team, along with the Northwest Swim Club, the Concord Swim Club and the Sports Center Fitness & Athletic Club, but Williams doesn't think that's enough.

"There's athletes who love the sport, but they only get to love it for two or three months," he said. "They don't have somewhere else to go the rest of the time."

Williams said his Sailfish Aquatics team will start to fill that void.

He hopes the program will have anywhere from 40 to 50 swimmers - ranging from 6 to 18 years old - in its first year, but long-term he said the sky's the limit.

One possible boundary is the lack of facilities in the county. The eight-lane West Cabarrus Y lap pool is only 25 yards long - compared to the Olympic-sized 50-meter pools in Davidson, Huntersville and Charlotte.

Williams hopes that will change.

"One of my goals is to have more water in Cabarrus County," he added. "I don't think there's enough pool space in the county."

He said that's important in keeping children feeling close to home.

"They build a nice community of friends where they're practicing, but they lose their connection with this community," said Williams.

Registration for the club is open with tryouts scheduled for June25-26.

Williams, who will coach and run Sailfish Aquatics, is excited about his new program, but he admits there's a lot of work to do.

"We have a team, we have a website, but we have no coaches and no swimmers," he said.