When it comes to the Logan and Warren Elks swim clubs, one is greater than two.
Because of declining numbers in their programs, the squads combined before the start of the Youngstown Swim League season this summer.
“Both programs were down to about 35 kids,” Logan coach Jen Sabula said. “We came together so that we could be more competitive. Some teams in the Youngstown Swim League have 150 kids on their roster.”
The Elks and the (Logan) Ducks have about 70 swimmers from age 5 to 18 that compete in one of five age groups (8 and younger, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-18).
Each swimmer may compete in up to three events within their age division. Swimmers are permitted to swim up one division, but not down.
“We usually place the kids in the events that they swim the best, but we encourage them to try different events,” Sabula said. “Sometimes we let them pick what they swim.”
Because the teams have combined, they have half of their home meets at the Warren Elks Club and half at the Logan Swim Club.
Sabula, who’s in her second year of coaching, said the team has swimmers that compete for Warren Harding and Howland high schools during the winter season as well as the Warren Harding Aquatics and Youngstown Penguins swim teams.
The Logan and Warren Elks merger isn’t the only one within the Youngstown Swim League. The three country-club teams (Tippecanoe, Youngstown and Trumbull) combine to make one squad.
The league also includes a team from Tippecanoe, Youngstown and Trumbull country clubs as well as squads from Poland, Boardman, Applewood, Warren Olympic and Firestone Area (Columbiana) swim clubs.
Ryan Jones, Vindicator correspondent
Q&A with Warren Elk's Coach Sara Schaefer
Q: What is your swimming background?
A: I began swimming at the age of 9. I swam at TCY [Trumbull County YMCA], then with the Youngstown Penguins and then at Warren Elks.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of coaching?
A: Seeing the kids faces when they win, or when they do well in general. They get so excited, especially the little ones.
Q: Do you have a favorite age group to coach?
A: I honestly enjoy coaching all of the ages. Each group presents you with a different set of challenges.
Q: What makes a swim meet go?
A: We are fortunate to have really good parents who volunteer their time and make the meets run smoothly. It takes about 50 volunteers to run a meet. They put together all of the food at the concession stand. A lot of the parents are timers, others are officials and some are clerks. My lifeguards come in early and get the pool set up. My sister, Paula Schaefer, and another woman take care of scoring the meet.
Q: Has combining the Logan and Warren Elks swim teams led to more success?
A: It’s still challenging for us to win. Even with our teams combined, we usually have on average 30 to 40 kids less than the team we are competing against. But combining our teams has made us more competitive.