DES MOINES, IA -- The Swimpro Aquatics Gators AAU swimming team took fifth place out of 38 teams from all over the country at the AAU Junior Olympics hosted at the Birdland Municipal Pool in Des Moines, Iowa earlier this month. Swympro Aquatics, based in Groton, brought 15 athletes ranging in age from 11 to 18-years old to the event.

"The kids really put in a lot of hard work to get to this point," Swympro Aquatics director Carol Wright said. "Our team is mainly comprised of kids from the surrounding towns. The kids trained really hard to get to this race and do well.

At last season's AAU junior olympics at the University of Michigan Aquatics Center in Ann Arbor, Mich, the Gators took home 15 medals, but this season it more than tripled last year's total count. Swimpro Aquatics took home 54 total medals and had the 15-18-year-old girls' Medley and free style relay events.

"The girls really rocked it," Wright said. "They recorded some of their best times all season when it mattered the most."

According to coach Wright, the raucous atmosphere down on the deck really amped up during the tight races. Every kid on Swimpro Aquatics brought at least one parent with them to the junior olympics and the Gators fans certainly made sure there presence was felt.

"The energy down on the pool deck was infectious," she said. "Our team really fed off the crowd's relentless enthusiasm."

Wright also picked up three Saudi Arabian swimmers who were at the event without a coach.


Wright added the kids to her team when other teams did not express interest.

"Our friends from Saudi Arabia had so much fun they expressed interest in joining our team next season." Wright said.

"When we arrived, the AAU officials asked who was interested in adding a few swimmers to their team? I accepted them because New England teams are often times more willing to volunteer to help out.

The three Saudi Arabian children really had a blast making friendships with our swimmers."

The Gators made friends with other teams, such as one from Arizona that they traded swim caps with.

"Swimmers are a special family of athletes, where even rivals can be the best of friends." Wright said.

Prior to making the trek to Iowa, the Gators raised over $5,000 at a swim-a-thon, which proved to be a great bonding experience for the team.

The Swimpro Aquatics Gators have been around for over 20-years, but this past season was just the club's second AAU Junior Olympics meet in its history.

The Gators are always interested in new swimmers to join their program.

Swimpro Aquatcs trains during the summer at the Groton Country Club's outdoor pool. Next summer's AAU Junior Olympics meet will be hosted in Virginia Beach, Va.