Oregon City Swim Team expands to Molalla, provides club swimming experience for kids

Molalla will host a lot more competitive swimmers in the immediate future.

PIONEER PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Oregon City Swim Team coach Rick Wheeler works with Molalla swimmers as a part of the OCST-South's first practices. 
As a part of a partnership with Oregon City Swim Team, the Molalla Aquatic Center will be bring club swimming to Molalla and the surrounding area. The idea came to life when Oregon City Swim Team coach Rick Wheeler began the club with Molalla Aquatic Center director Melissa Georgesen on Nov. 6 and 7.

"Basically, it's an expansion of Oregon City swim team," Wheeler said. "We decided that we wanted to open this up to the community out here. We had a good opportunity working with Melissa to bring out the brand of Oregon City. I volunteered to come out and get it started for the community of Molalla to, again, bring swimming back because it's been a long time since they've had a swim team here."

Though an expansion of the team in Oregon City, the swimmers so far are made up entirely of Molalla kids, according to Wheeler. With swimmers ranging from 5 to 18 years in age, the idea is to grow the swim team into something that will help feed the high school program, but also build up a sense of community in and around the area.

"It's important to swim here for the community," Wheeler said. "The older kids to get to (interact with) the younger kids. For us, it's all about building a stronger community and support. That support will carry over to the other sports as well, where it will be more of a draw for kids to come from the outside to Molalla."

Wheeler, who has been coaching in Oregon City since April, had spent the last decade running and coaching a swim club in Vietnam, until returning to the states in January.

The swim club will not interfere with the high school's team, as any swimmers on the high school team will not be competing in club meets at that time.

"This is a club team that's going to be running year round, and will benefit the high school team if we get kids to join the club," Wheeler said. "Most of them don't have anywhere to swim. That's another reason why we did it, to keep the kids that wanted to swim year-round. They can swim year-round, and they can compete, not just at the high school level, but all over."

"We've got kids that go to nationals, regionals, sectionals, all of that from Oregon City," Wheeler continued. "These kids here have the opportunity to join that as well."

Though the team is affiliated with the Oregon City team, it will be known as the OCST-South.

Molalla High School's team is nearing its first meet of the season when it hosts 5A Silverton on Friday, Dec. 7 at 4:15 p.m.

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