Dressed in a black, hand-decorated T-shirt, Basira Knight moved across the pool deck at Cary Swim Club on Saturday night with flawless rhythm and a beaming smile. The assistant coach for Oxxford Hunt led her team of swimmers, ages 5-18, through a carefully choreographed dance to the beat of “Happy” from the Despicable Me movie to celebrate winning the Spirit Award, an honor presented to the swim team demonstrating the most sportsmanship, enthusiasm and team spirit.
The members of her team proudly wore yellow “minion” shirts and cheered with Knight as she clapped and turned to the sound of the music blaring through her speakers.
Knight, who has attended the annual city swim meet as both a swimmer and a coach over the years, said the best part of Cary City is watching her swimmers support one another in and out of the water, regardless of how fast they swim.
“I think that sometimes teams can get wrapped up in, you know, times and stuff, and we just really encourage the kids to really enjoy the meet,” Knight said. “Spirit kind of overshadows points sometimes. If you team is the one that’s cheering their teammates on, even if someone’s not swimming best times, it doesn’t really matter, it’s more the spirit. That’s what swimming is, it’s about camaraderie and teamwork.”
Sierra Tarrant, an assistant coach for Abbington Swim Team in Apex, praised Knight for keeping an upbeat attitude, even as thunder delayed the meet more than an hour. She said Oxxford Hunt and Cary Swim Club led a dance party to keep the swimmers and coaches entertained as they waited for the storm to pass, and the spirit of the teams corresponded to the tradition of the Cary City meet as a competitive annual event where kids enjoy racing and cheering on their teammates.
“Cary City is a great place for kids to learn sportsmanship, meet new swimmers, experience a high energy meet and fall in love with the sport,” Tarrant said. “By cheering and having fun with the other coaches, our kids witnessed how to have good sportsmanship and have fun amongst other teams.”
While Oxxford Hunt swimmers showed off their dance moves and displayed their minion T-shirts in a quest for the spirit award, Sunset Ridge Swim Club and Prestonwood Country Club competed for a different trophy: the 2015 Cary City Champion title.
Holly Springs’ Sunset Ridge, who held a 61.17 point lead at the halfway point of the meet, edged out Cary’s Prestonwood by just eight points at the conclusion of the meet to capture their highest finish in program history.
Assistant coach J.T. Moran credits the determination of his older swimmers to lead by example and help his team pull out the win.
“The difference this year, it’s been the work our swimmers put into it, it’s been the fun that our parents helped created, the work that our parents put into it,” Moran said. “It’s been a real community effort, and I’m very proud to be a part of it, and I couldn’t be more proud of my swimmers.”
Carson Nixon, a 10-year-old swimmer for Sunset Ridge, earned the high point award for his age group and helped his team build a lead during the first session of the meet. Kyley Lloyd, 7, from Prestonwood, also displayed strong performances in the first session of the meet, and said she looks forward to competing in Cary City again next year.
“I love Cary City,” Lloyd said.
Other top team finishes at the meet include Apex’s Olive Chapel in third, Cary’s Silverton in fourth and Apex’s Shepard’s Vineyard in fifth. The Reserve swim team, also of Cary, captured the small team high point award.
While team points decide the champion of the meet, Knight emphasized that Cary City serves as way for kids to learn teamwork, rather than simply compete against one another.
“I think my favorite memory of Cary City ... is probably seeing all of our swimmers behind the blocks of teammates and really cheering,” Knight said. “As long as their teammates are there and supporting them, I think that’s the really big part of it.