Local swimmers heading for state championship

By Joanna Manning

Heard of Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte? What about McClellan or Fennell? Well, the first two are household names in the world of swimming – and the next two - you just MIGHT need to keep your eyes and ears open for they are heading in that same direction. Not only are they from Union County Mississippi – they are part of Union County’s swim team, the Tallahatchie Tidal Waves and these two young swimmers are heading to the Mississippi Swimming Short Course State Championship, Feb. 21-24.

Aniston McClellan, 12 years old, 7th grader at Ingomar Attendance Center, and Joseph Fennell, 10 years old, 4th grader at New Albany Elementary School, are heading to Laurel at the end of the month to compete against several swimmers from varying swim teams around the state. Only the top swimmers who have competed through USA Swimming sanctioned meets and who are USA Swimming registered swimmers who have qualifying times are allowed to participate.

USA Swimming is “… the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming in the United States, USA Swimming is a 300,000-member service organization that promotes the culture of swimming by creating opportunities for swimmers and coaches of all backgrounds to participate and advance in the sport through clubs, events and education.”

“Membership is comprised of swimmers from the age group level to the Olympic Team, as well as coaches and volunteers. USA Swimming is responsible for selecting and training teams for international competition including the Olympic Games, and strives to serve the sport through its core objectives: Build the base, Promote the sport, Achieve competitive success.”

Both McClellan and Fennell started competitively swimming through Manning Training & Aquatics Services (MANTAS) just over a year ago. MANTAS, founded by Bradley Manning, encouraged the formation of Tallahatchie Tidal Waves Swim Team through their Club, Tallahatchie Aquatics LLC to become a non-profit entity and to continue to run the aquatics program. Community wide knowledge of the sport of swimming was one of MANTAS goals. The team officially became Tallahatchie Tidal Waves Swim Team this past September.

The Tallahatchie Tidal Waves Swim Team practices at the indoor heated four lane pool at the New Albany Baptist Healthplex Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. “We are privileged to be able to use the facility in New Albany,” said head coach, Joanna Manning. “When my husband started the team, we knew it would be interesting to make people aware of this year round sport, but with Tallahatchie Aquatics LLC now formed and fully operating as a nonprofit, we have high hopes the program will continue and bring the sport of swimming to more and more individuals in Union County.” Manning is a USA Swimming and American Swim Coaches Association Certified Coach.

“In the last two meets, the team placed 2nd and 3rd place over all team scorer earning a couple of trophies for all our swimmers hard work. Our six-year-old team member, Ethan Kimbrough has won top high point Scorer for his age group in both of those same meets.”

Members of the team range in age from six years old to 15 years old, girls and boys. The team started under MANTAS just a over a year ago with just under 10 swimmers and has grown, signing up 35 registered swimmers in September. Swim competitions are held year round. “We are proud of our team, our wonderful coaches, Sarah T. Garrett , Ashley White and Bradley Manning, and all our very supportive parents for everything they do,” Manning said. Manning’s son, Liam, who swims with Shockwave Aquatics in Tupelo, will also be competing. “Our son Liam is the reason we started the team in New Albany, and our daughter Shaelee currently swims with Tallahatchie Tidal Waves.”

Open swim team tryouts for the upcoming Long Course Season (March through August) will be held at the New Albany Baptist Healthplex Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30pm to 6:00pm, March 4, 5 and 7. Please see the team’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/swimttw) for more information or contact Joanna Manning, Head Coach via email at tallahatchieaquatics@gmail.com.

More information about USA Swimming can be found on their webpage, www.usaswimming.org.

Information about all swim teams within Mississippi and the Mississippi Swimming State Championship can be found on the www.msswim.org website.