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Lahaina Swim Club back in the pool and competing

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Jun 25, 2021

Tom Popdan (left) and Jen Wiseman (right) coach Lahaina Swim Club and the Lahainaluna High School team.

LAHAINA — With COVID-19 restrictions being lifted across the Valley Isle, the Maui Age Group Swimming Association got back into the pool on June 5 for its first competition since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

Hawaii Swim Club, Maui Dolphins, Maui Swim Club, Island Aquatics and Lahaina Swim Club participated in the first of six meets to be held this summer.

Since the Lahaina Aquatic Center opened in the early 1990s, the youth swimming programs there have excelled on the county, state and national levels.

Led by head coach Tom Popdan and a dedicated board of directors since 1995, LSC has been a dominant force throughout the years.

Each summer, Coach Tom returns to his home state of New Jersey and his summer job as a beach lifeguard there. Without missing a stroke, the Lahaina program swims on led by Jen Wiseman, who has walked the deck at LAC for over 20 years as one of Popdan’s top assistants.

Coach Jen is joined by assistants Erica Gaastra, Kirsten Byers and Gabby Lindbald in guiding the LSC team that ranges in age from five to 18 years old.

The current roster lists about 50 kids, which is roughly half of the usual team lineup.

“It’s been a nightmare trying to work around all the limitations,” Wiseman explained last week.

“We’ve been practicing at a home private lap pool four days a week. No starting blocks, no lanes set up and limited access to the LAC. They’re closed this week.”

She added that the meets are limited to 100 people in attendance; that includes the competitors, coaches and officials, with no spectators allowed.

The 15 boys and 15 girls on each team compete in separate sessions in the morning and afternoon.

Through all the limitations and protocols, Coach Jen emphasized the team’s gratitude to the family and community support of LSC and especially to the board of directors made up of President Paula Pope, Vice President Gina Iverson, Secretary Kari Alexander, Registrar Dave Wintermeyer and Treasurer Bob Dezotell.

“We really appreciate everything these board members and the community members do to help the club. We’ve had kids like Paloma Banto, Slater Fleck and Mathew Iverson that are really doing well moving up in the collegiate and club swimming levels. We have a waiting list going for the team and hold tryouts every week. Our sincere thank you to all who help keep the program going,” Coach Jen concluded.