In 1986 the Plains Tsunami Swim League was started by Jeffery Utterback, coach of Arapahoe, Nancy Frecks, coach of Culbertson and Ann Paine, coach of Oxford, when the USS Swim League became too expensive to be a part of, aside from all the politics and nastiness that was generated against the small town teams, and trying to compete against the much bigger teams. Don't get it wrong, our individuals could compete, there were not many swimmers in that league that wanted to go head to head with most of our swimmers.
During the time they were a part of the USS Swim League they had 15 to 20 swimmers every year. Since forming this new swim league our teams rarely have less than 40 swimmers a year.
The expense of the USS Swim League of $20.00 per swimmer for yearly registration (and was proposed to go up another $5 per year) plus an extra $1.00 or $2.00 per swimmer and $1.00 to $3.00 per event each week which was costing them up to $150.00 a week for a small town team. It was becoming harder and harder to raise enough funds to keep up.
When the League started they were composed of nine teams; two, Oxford and Arapahoe, were a part of the USS Swim League, three teams, Alma, Franklin, and Red Cloud, had just been swimming against each other week after week and the other four teams were joined by making phone calls; Culbertson, Cambridge, Stratton and Beaver City. One of the first calls was to Nancy Frecks. Having been a swimmer in high school and college, Nancy jumped at the chance to be a part of and help run the new League, which was initially called the Southwest Nebraska Swim League (SWNSL). The name was changed to its current name when we started adding teams from Kansas to the League, the first of which was Atwood.
Since expenses were the issue in the other league we decided to only charge $9.00 which covered their paper work and awards for the swimmers. Over the past 27 years the fees have only raised to $26.00 per swimmer to swim and compete in 7 meets a year. The League awards over 7,500 ribbons during the season and over 1500 medals at the Championship Meet.
Not only have the awards expanded, but the Plains Tsunami Swim League now consists of 21 teams and over 700 swimmers. It stretches from the Colorado Border of Kansas and Nebraska to 200 miles to the east to Franklin, NE and Phillipsburg, KS and all the way North to I-80.
You may think that this is an inconvenience for all of these teams to travel, but each week there are five host sites across league. Each team gets the opportunity to host at least one meet during the summer. One of our goals of the League is to keep the meets small enough that everyone can have an opportunity to earn a ribbon and allow the meets to be short to not take up all of your Saturday. With all of this in mind, the League has discussed adding a 6th site each week.
The League provides all watches, ribbons, entry papers, and results to be filled out. When all meets are done, the results are emailed to Jeff and he compiles all the results into one for a weekly Top 20. After these five regular season meets we have a Qualifying meet where swimmers vie to get into the Championship Meet.
It doesn't matter what age you are to swim since the League has 7 age groups from 8 and under to 30 and over. They have 134 events per meet to ensure that everyone has a chance to swim in what they enjoy. We have quite a few swimmers in the two oldest age groups, mostly parents, all are in it for the fun and exercise yet it tends to be fairly competitive, but they have a good time doing it.
Even though this league is fun and a learning experience for many young swimmers we still judge the strokes and disqualify (DQ) improper strokes with a hard line in each and every age group.. Stroke Judges are trained and provided at every meet. If an 8 & Under swimmer receives a DQ for an event they swam, they receive a rainbow colored “OOPS” ribbon. One of our main goals is fairness and the first step in that is making sure all are swimming properly and fairly. This league is based on everyone that wants to, regardless of experience, ability, or age, to be a part of and feel like a part of this.