Sibling swimmers make competition fun

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2001


PHOTO 1: Allison Zeringue takes a breath during the freestyle heat at the Belle Terre/Hill Heights swimmeet Monday. (Staff Photo by J. Edmund Barnes) LAPLACE – Going swimming is a favorite method for kids to beat the heat in Louisiana. But area country clubs are going one step further by introducing a bit of friendly competition into the pool. The Belle Terre Country Club offers two summer swimming leagues for children. The leagues are based on age: the younger group consists of boys and girls 6 to 10 years old. The older group is made up of boys and girls 11-18 years old. Practice is from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday for the younger children, and from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. for the older children. Every Monday and Thursday are competitive swim meets; these usually begin at 6:30 p.m. and end at 10:30 p.m. Monica Scioneaux has been swimming at the Belle Terre Country Club in LaPlace since she was 3 years old. Scioneaux, now a senior studying dietetics and nutrition at the University of Mississippi, coaches the youth swim teams during the summer, a job she’s been doing for the past five years. She is also president of her sorority, Pi Beta Phi. PHOTO 2: Siblings Alexis and Laura Bailey are all smiles after the Belle Terre swimmeet Monday evening. (Staff photo by J. Edmund Barnes) After three years of being the assistant coach, Scioneaux is now the head coach. The best part of the job is being around the kids. “I love children,” said Scioneaux. Scioneaux and her assistant coach, Corey Laborde, are in charge of 128 children. “This is the biggest the team has been in a while,” said Scioneaux. With meets twice a week and two hours of practice a day, the two are kept very busy. And while the meets are amicable events with a lot of friendly interaction between the swim teams, there is nonetheless a streak of fierce competitiveness. “We’re 3-0 right now,” said Scioneaux. “I definitely see us having a very good season.” Two of the stars of the Belle Terre Pirahanas are Laura and Alexis Bailey. The siblings usually compete in two different age groups, as Laura is 12 years old and Alexis is only 10, but five months out of every other year the two fall into the same age group, and the competition goes to a new level. “The hardest part is watching the two compete against each other,” said their mother Mary Bailey. “It’s hard pulling for one and not for the other.” Alexis and Laura started swimming when they were 4 and 5 years old, respectively. Alexis is the stronger swimmer of the two. But there is no bitterness in their rivalry, and the competition has made Laura a better swimmer. This, in turn, has given Laura an edge in her age group, a group that is more competitive than the 10-11 year old group that Alexis currently belongs to. “She lives and breaths it,” said Mary. “She likes the competition of it. She likes the friends she makes because of it.” “I like the it because you can have fun at the same time (as swimming competitively),” said Alexis. “Sometimes you get to go on travel meets and you can have fun there.” The furthest meet the Bailey sisters have competed at was in Pensacola Beach, Fla. After the meets, the girls got to spend time on the beach, where the two swam some more. “I like racing the best,” said Laura. “I’m going to keep swimming through high school. I’ll still swim. until I get old.”