DALLAS -- Julie Morrow has been coach of the Dallas Blue Dolphins swim team only since December. Already, though, see has seen significant improvement.
"Our team is really small," Morrow said. "The (bad) economy has hit the team and the whole area pretty hard. But the swimmers who have been there have improved an outrageous amount. We're getting a few more coming in who think swimming is worth it. We're hoping with more advertising we can bring some new swimmers to the team.
"When I first started, we had one swimmer with an "A" time and a couple of "B" times. Everybody else had "C" times. We've got about 15 kids, now, which is where we were when I started. It fluctuates from time to time. Now, the majority of them have "B" times, and two of them have "A" times, which qualifies them for state."
Blue Dolphins Annalisa Kakacek and Jolie Ford, ages 9 and 10, respectively, have earned spots in this weekend's state meet at South Albany High School. Both have qualified for multiple events in the state meet.
"Depending on which swims you're looking at, Jolie ranks pretty high," Morrow said. "She will finish pretty high, too. Annalisa ranks somewhere in the middle. She's looking at maybe placing 12th or so, which is nothing to sneeze at."
Morrow previously coached swimming in California and at Madras. She is trying to change a culture that for years as seen Dallas' best swimmers migrate to the Corvallis Aquatic Club and then later to Crescent Valley High School.
"With the previous coaching styles -- they previously had volunteer coaches -- they weren't pushing the kids toward competition," Morrow said. "That's what I was hired for, that's what I'm going to do. We had some swimmers who just didn't know how to take that next step. Now they're just blossoming. It's amazing.
"The (Dallas) swimmers who are with the team now in Corvallis are not going to relocate back. But the new swimmers who are with are team now don't want to leave. They see that we can compete with these other teams. That's my opinion. That's what I'm seeing.
"We meet only three days per week. These other teams meet anywhere from five to 10 times per week, and our kids are keeping up. That's a huge feat for these kids. When we grow in numbers, we'll grow in practice days as well."
Anyone wishing to join the Blue Dolphins can call Morrow at 503-602-2551 or visit the Dallas Aquatic Center during a practice session, which are held from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.