The Aiken-Augusta Swim League has more than 30 years of experience enhancing the skills of athletes and helping them attain college scholarships. Over the years, the league has nourished a family atmosphere that has turned it into a dominant program.
Program director and head coach Neil Harper was the head coach at Florida State for 14 years and just completed his first complete season with ASL. Harper said that coaches from the next level invest most of their time recruiting from club teams
“They’re dedicated year-round swimmers. ASL is really for those who want to take swimming to the next level,” Harper said. “Being from the collegiate rank, we look to find prospects who swim for these types of teams. Recruiting is year-round, so while we do look at high school results, we have a better relationship with the club coaches.”
Several swimmers from the league enjoyed success this summer.
Jackie Jeschke has been with the league for nine years. At the Junior Nationals in Irvine, Calif., she competed in both the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke. Through ASL, Jeschke has been in contact with Virginia Tech, Louisiana State, Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Penn State.
She said that swimming is a part of her DNA, and her passion for the sport has only grown since joining ASL.
“I started swimming when I lived in Maryland. Both my parents were swimmers and my dad was a coach. When we moved in Georgia we found that ASL was the best team here,” said Jeschke, a senior who is taking online courses. “The coaches and teammates have helped me as a swimmer and in my social life.”
Lindsay Wallace, a junior at Davidson, just finished her seventh year with the program. Wallace said swimming with a club team helps her become a better leader during the high school season.
Wallace collected the bronze medal at the Southern Zone Meet in San Antonio in the 100-meter backstroke.
“It’s really fun to help out the guys who only swim for the school. The team really looks up to you,” Wallace said. “Swimming year-round gives me more an opportunity to learn more from the sport and teach my teammates something they may not have known. The high school state meet is in February, so I’m usually really prepared for it when it gets here. ASL has everything to do with it.”
Greenbrier junior Brennan Day, 16, also went to the Junior Nationals. He swam in three events, all in which he produced his season’s best times. Day participated in the mile, 800-meter freestyle and the 400-meter individual medley.
Day said high school doesn’t afford him the same opportunities to swim in the distance events he feels most comfortable in. The league also helps prepare him for Division-I swimming shape.
“I don’t practice with Greenbrier, so I have to train as hard as I can,” Day said. “Swimming is a competitive sport in college. Since I was in the sixth grade I’ve wanted to swim at the collegiate Division-I level. ASL teaches you dedication and hard work, two things that you will need to be successful at the next level.”
Evan Freed, 17, is a five-year member who now takes classes at USC Aiken. Freed last competed in the high school ranks two years ago and now swims exclusively for ASL.
While Freed’s ultimate goal is to make it onto an NCAA roster, he said as long as he is dedicated to his craft then the rest will take care of itself.
“My goals are to make it to the college ranks, Olympic trials and world trials,” Freed said. “When you know you’ve trained hard, you go to a meet, or anything, with the expectation to accomplish the goal that you have set in the back of your mind.”
The league’s younger swimmers have excelled, too.
At the Georgia State Swimming Championship in July, the ASL Silver Kings won several events.
Jeschke’s brother, Mike, tied for the high point award for 13-year-old boys. He won the 200-meter butterfly and 400-meter individual medley (IM), and he also took silver in the 400-meter free, 1500-meter free, 100-meter breaststroke and 200-meter individual medley and bronze in the 200-meter breaststroke.
Anna Parviainen took silver in the 13-year-old 200-meter backstroke and bronze in the 100-meter backstroke, and Michael Robinson took bronze in the 13-year-old 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter backstroke.