Fifty-six Pocono YMCA swimmers to compete in Jr. Olympics

By Mike Kuhns
Record Sports Writer
July 16, 2009
After years of bringing three and four kids to the Middle Atlantic Junior Olympics, swimming coach Mike Wolbert has taken his team to a new level.
Wolbert will bring a record 56 swimmers from the Pocono Family YMCA to State College for the four-day event which kicks off today at 5:30 p.m. and runs through Sunday.
Over 1,700 swimmers will flock to Penn State University and swim the 50-meter outdoor pool. Coaching since 1990, Wolbert said the key is consistent training.
“We don’t allow the kids to get off path,” Wolbert said. “We stick with long-term goals. When the winter season ends, we don’t take a break. We keep pushing forward into next season.”
Wolbert said he has about 75 kids who train year-round. About 140 kids, swimmers of all ages, swim for the YMCA 570) 421-2525, ext. 320).
“It’s been fun,” Wolbert said. “We started at one pool at ESU. We now swim at two schools and two parks in the summer. We really want to try and service all the kids in the area.”
Wolbert’s son, Zachary, regionally ranked third, 50 fly; third, 100 fly; fourth, 50 breast; eighth, 100 breast; 14th 200 free), and daughter Emily seventh, 200 fly; 10th, 50 fly) are two of the highest ranked swimmers on the team. Both are in the East Stroudsburg South school district.
Other top-ranked swimmers in the region include: Kamahl Brom PM East, 15th, 200 back), Keenan Bartlett ES South, 16th, 200 back), Lena Yang ES South, 12th, 50 free), Alex Burns Stroudsburg and state champ last year, 11th, 50 free) and Sam Velez ES North, 16th, 200 IM).
The 56 qualifiers easily knocked off last year’s total of 26. In 2007, the team sent just nine swimmers.
“I’m all about doing the task and staying on task and not allowing yourself to get lazy,” Wolbert said. “I don’t play favorites. I don’t cut kids slack. Everyone follows the same standards. I’ll have fun, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work.”