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Olympic hopefuls

Local swim club members picking up tips from the best

Spokane teen Miguel Menendez has been taking notes during the Olympics with hopes of one day becoming a national champion swimmer.

One tip the 14-year-old has picked up: “Take 10 to 12 dolphin kicks off the wall after a turn,” he said.

Menendez is a member of the Spokane Area Swimming team, or SAS, one of three clubs in the region.

Practicing at Witter Pool this week, he and his teammates, ages 11 to 18, say they’ve been inspired by the Olympic swimmers, especially Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.

Franklin, said Rachelle Roy, 11, is “really nice and friendly, and she’s really fast.” Of the men, she added, “Lochte, because he’s a little faster. Phelps is getting a little old.”

Team members are passionate about swimming. Members spend at least 19 hours a week practicing with the team, plus training on their own. Sometimes they practice six days a week, coach Susanne Simpson said.

But when you have dreams of making it to the Olympics, that’s the kind of dedication it takes.

Simpson said four of her team members are going into high school. She thinks some could make it to the Olympic trials. “That’s a big goal,” she said.

Menendez is one of the team members who has his sights set on the Olympics. “Right now, my time in the 100 freestyle is 1:00:99,” or just a hair over one minute. He needs to drop about eight seconds to make it into the trials, but he has four years to do it. Last year, he shaved six seconds off his time.

Sakaiya McCoy, 14, is a long-distance swimmer who was diving into pools by age 2. “I really want to go to the Olympics,” she said.

Her teammate, Darby Howat, also 14, thinks it’s possible. “She’s insanely fast,” she said of McCoy.

Teammate Chris Sowers, 16, tries not to get his hopes up about the Olympic trials.

“You hear all the stories, and those guys do some amazing stuff to train. But unless you are like a Michael Phelps, you want to have an education