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Harris focuses on fun for Sea Dogs swim team

| Sunday, July 9, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Morgan Harris appreciates the spectrum of athletes he has the opportunity to coach with the Shaler Sea Dogs summer swim team.

Many are serious about getting better and developing faster times. There is also a large group of young kids getting their feet wet for the first time.

“We don't keep records in summer season,” Harris said. “The summer season is about having fun and staying in shape. It's not as competitive as a year-round club team or high school team.”

The team will compete in the championships of North Hills Summer Swim League this week. Swimmers with the fastest times during the dual-meet seasons qualified.

Harris, in his first year as coach after serving as an assistant for several years, prefers to focus on development, rather than winning.

“The older kids that do the club year-round know the times they are going for,” Harris said. “They are looking at the results, and ‘OK, I swam this time. I usually get this time. I set a personal best, that's awesome.' The younger kids don't look at the clock that much.”

There are about 120 swimmers ranging from 6 to 18 years old. There are developmental levels and other groups that focus on being competitive.

“I've seen a lot of improvement,” Harris said. “In the summer, you get a lot of new kids. They've done the lessons and everything. It's a competitive sport, really. What they do the first week of practice, the time trials, it's crazy how much the younger kids improve learning the stroke. That's across the board, everyone improves over time.”

Harris, who swam at Shaler, also tries to help encourage those who show major improvement to stick with the program. The Titans' high school program had low numbers the last few years. Shaler did have a state qualifier, Emily Schaefer, this past season.

Harris understands everyone has varied interests.

He just wants everyone to have fun.

“We do try to encourage kids to stick with it,” Harris said. “As far as teams in Pittsburgh area, we're not on the smaller size, but we're not on the larger size. I understand coming through Shaler as an athlete I played multiple sports. Kids do multiple sports throughout the year. I encourage them to stick with swimming. Hey you're good, we want you to keep swimming and improving because you have potential.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer

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