Kinston Kingfish swim team improves dramatically in second season

Kinston Kingfish swim team improves dramatically in second season

The Kinston Kingfish finished up the Greenville Summer Swim League season Saturday at Guy Smith Park in Greenville. The members pictured competed in Saturday’s 11-12 and 13-14 year-old boys meet and are, from left, Turner White, Ronald Jackson, Joshua Hardy, Aaron Blizzard, Jacob Hardy, Jackson Heath, Andrew Tribula and Daniel Jones. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News

GREENVILLE -- What a difference a year makes.

The Kinston Kingfish swim team made its debut in 2017, with many of the participants learning the basics and working on getting better each practice. For the group, ranging from ages 6 to 18 and competing in boys and girls' meets, the focus wasn’t on winning meets nearly as much as improving times and mastering different techniques in the water.

This season, the Kingfish made dramatic improvements across the board, growing its roster from about 25 swimmers to 60 while also finishing second in the Marauder Division of the Greenville Summer Swim League. The team won a pair of swim meets in the process and second-year Kingfish member Jackson Heath, 14, said there was definite change, including indoor practices at Galaxy of Sports.

“Everyone just got better,” Heath said. “We had harder workouts, were kicking better and we didn’t have any outside practices.”

Jacob Hardy, 13, said the added number of swimmers helped everyone get stronger.

“We’ve got a bigger team now and we’ve been about to win more,” Hardy said.

Beth Payne, one of the Kingfish coaches, said the team has been wonderful all year — both old and new competitors.

“Over the course of last year, they have improved so much,” Payne said. “A lot of them didn’t know some of the more advanced strokes when we started, but they continued to practice and that’s allowed us to do really well this year. Other swimmers joined us from other places close by because now we have competitive options for them.”

One of the new Kingfish, Ronald Jackson, 13, said he’s learned a lot over the past season in and out of the pool.

“I learned about teamwork and got to know people (like my teammates),” Jackson said. “My favorite (race) is the freestyle.”

The Kingfish are continuing to develop and are now under the East Carolina Aquatics umbrella. The ECA is a nonprofit organization looking to build swimming in ENC and general manager Scott Pake said the Kingfish have made tremendous growth over the past season.

 “It’s an opportunity to go out and spread our mission, creating great individuals in the sport of swimming,” Pake said. “I think (the Kinston Kingfish) have done a great job over the past year and they’ll be a great addition.”

For more information, go to or contact Beth Payne at 419-350-0516.

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