Aniston McClellan has been an active swimmer for several years, but only since September has she decided to take this to the next level, competing on the state level.
As a member of the newly formed New Albany/Union County swim team, McClellan has earned that opportunity and recently competed in the Mississippi Swimming Long Course State Championships earlier this month.
Competing in the 100 meter breaststroke, McClellan finished 13th, and is the first from this group to compete and finish at state.
“We had three children in our group who competed in Tupelo and qualified for state, but Aniston is the only one who was able to go,” assistant coach Joann Manning said.
Along with her husband, Bradley Manning, the duo formed MANTAS swimming (Manning Training and Aquatic Service), and the group is training under this service through the Baptist Healthplex.
“He knew of a couple people who drowned in the county when he was younger. When we moved here, there were a couple more, and we feel that’s because there was nothing offered for swimming,” Manning said. “In part, we want it for competition and providing another sport, but a lot of it, too, is to open up swimming more, so we can avoid another tragedy in the county.
And McClellan is one over 20 who currently swim in either the long course season or short course. While she only competed in the breaststroke at state, she has also competed in all other events, except the backstroke.
“My mom told me about it one day, and I’ve liked it from the start,” McClellan said. “My goal is to one day, when I’m old enough, be certified and help other kids learn to swim.”
McClellan will enter the seventh grade at Ingomar this school year, and hopes to also see the group continue to grow.
The swim team, which also has Sara Garrett as an assistant coach, is currently working toward a non-profit status, after which they will choose an official name for the team. Currently, the group practices on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at the Healthplex.