On the 30th Anniversary of the New Mexico Games the Socorro Stingrays swim team traveled to West Mesa High School Aquatic Center to compete in its fourth state summer youth tournament in a row. Swimmers ages 7 to 18 hit the pool for just shy of 100 heats during the July 7 program.
The Rays went up against seven other youth programs; The Barracuda’s, Dolphins, ACC Swimming, SMP, CUDA and UNAT of Albuquerque as well as the Tiger Sharks from T or C.
Stephen Morrell served as the event commissioner and was busy organizing team score sheets, among other things, from the official viewing area of the pool facility. Morrell has been involved with swimming competition for over twenty years.
“You’ve got the full gamut of age groups in the pool today,” he said. “I think it’s cool to watch the kids go after it, plain and simple. I would also say on the Socorro side from an outsider’s perspective their team has really grown and is very well organized. I’m not sure who does it off the top of my head but the Stingrays have an increasingly strong showing at meets like this. Just listen to the crowd noise and you will see their fan presence.”
Greg Valentino was in the stands with the large Socorro group of parents and family members that traveled down rooting on his kids Iriana (13) and Ithan Valentino (11).
“We’re out here to support the kids,” he said. “As a dad when the kids were younger I pushed them towards certain sports admittedly but as they get older you have to let them make their own choices as far as what they enjoy and right now my kids really love to swim. I and several other parents are out here as a cheering squad and I hope that they perform well. I know that they will do great today.”
A rival team, which participated in the Stingrays’ June 22 home meet at Sedillo Park, the Albuquerque Dolphins were also in the water. The Dolphins took home the team trophy last year during the 2018 New Mexico Games event. Tiffany Hagarty is a team mom with two swimmers, Gillian-Rose (10) and Prince (9) Hagarty. She was excited to see her kids face off against fellow competitors in the pool.
“I really wanted to see the Socorro swimmers again for my kid’s sake,” she said. “They (Stingrays) are so well put together and if you want to be the best you have to beat the best so come and get us Socorro (laughs). Swimming is an amazing life skill for my kids and the friends they make in the pool from all over the state are so great to see.”
Following warm up events on July 10 and 13 the Rays will have District championships on July 17-18 followed by State Finals on July 20 at West Mesa Aquatic Center.