On a cold, Wednesday afternoon at the Ardmore YMCA, practice was being held in the back of the facility.

On a cold, Wednesday afternoon at the Ardmore YMCA, practice was being held in the back of the facility.

No, its not the typical youth basketball practice held throughout the year. Past the kids shooting hoops in the gym in the pool area, something is happening for the first time in 15 years.

Pacing down the edge of the pool, Melanie Sutherlin is yelling instructions to her swimmers over the loud sound of splashing in the pool. The Plainview Indians are holding a school-sanctioned swimming practice.

Sutherlin’s passion for swimming came at a young age, and grew as she did. Stutherlin swam in high school and for California State Northridge in college. Twenty-one years ago she moved to the Ardmore area, and with a need for a new swim coach at Plainview, Sutherlin switched from swimmer to teacher.

“The reason why I coach is for the kids,” Sutherlin said. “ I want to pass on my love and knowledge of swimming. Swimming is a unique sport, it’s a lifetime sport that you can do for the rest of your life.”

Sutherlin took a break from coaching swimming when she had her twins Kyle and Kenny Sutherlin, both of whom are on the swim team, but eventually came back.

Sadly, the Indians swim program ended 15 years ago, leaving area swimmers without a high school team to compete for. Through the support of superintendent Karl Stricker and athletic director David Gilliam, Sutherlin was able to bring back swimming to the area.

There are currently five swimmers on the Indians roster, all have competed since November. The number of swimmers is growing in the area through the YMCA program. There are currently 65 kids who have signed up to swim under Sutherlin in the YMCA meets.

“Were growing through word of mouth,” Sutherlin said. “Just kids dragging a friend in to get them interested.”

Plainview senior Michael Lloyd is new to the program.

Lloyd is a part of the track team at Plainview as well,. He uses swimming to stay in shape during the off season and for the love of the sport.

Lloyd has known Kenny, Kyle and Melanie Sutherlin for years, and after a long talk, they finally convinced him to join the team.

“My two friends Kenny and Kyle, we have been best friends since we were young and I used to do swim practice with them,” Lloyd said. “I just never got into as much as they did, but this year they finally convinced me to come out here and try it and I started to enjoy it and see improvements  which has really kept me here.”

Lloyd has Sutherlin to thank for his improvements as swimmer in such a short period of time.

“Coach Sutherlin and I go way back,  we have a longer history so our coach-athlete relationship is stronger because of that,” Lloyd said. “She tells me every practice how I could not even keep my head in the water, and now I am competing in races. Clearly her coaching is doing something for me.”

Another newcomer is Paola Recio. Recio transferred from Madill and was eager to sign up when she heard the Indians were getting a team.

Recio has been swimming all her life, but becoming an Indian she has learned a whole lot more thanks to Sutherlin.

“She has helped me in many ways,” Recio said. “She is there for me to tell me my mistakes when I swim, ways to breathe differently, when to kick and not kick. She is just there for me, and I am glad that she is there for me.”

The swim season is dwindling down with only a few meets left before regionals and the state meets. With five swimmers, beating other teams with more swimmers will be a tall task to overcome, but the Indians are doing what they can to overcome the obstacles that lay before them.

No matter how the team finishes, any success is great thing for a new program. Going forward, the Indians will have a lot to be proud of in their first season.

“To see our kids come in and be able to finish in the top ten is huge for us,” Sutherlin said. “I mean were happy about that and it shows that we are doing the right thing in our program.”