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Birmingham Youth Swim Team Makes a Big Splash at State Championship

Front row, from left, Kimberly Johnson; Olivia Osborne; Kameron Sanders; Lanique Parnell; Cameron Johnson. Back row, from left, Coach Tevin Harris; K’Marion Hayes; Ryan Dickson; Ja’Kobe Hayes; Brendan Thomas; Madyson Thomas; and Coach Stephen Sewell (PROVIDED PHOTO)


The City of Birmingham Parks and Rec swim team, known as the “Piranhas”, recently team finished second out of 15 teams in the Alabama Recreation & Parks Association State Swim meet at Sand Mountain Park in Albertville, AL. The team competed in several area swim meets before advancing to the state championship.

Nearly 1,000 swimmers, from five years old to high school, participated in the championship, which featured top summer competitors from across the state.

Some of the key performances from the Birmingham team included:

  • Cameron Johnson, 8, two gold medals and one silver in 25m Freestyle, 25m butterfly and 50m freestyle events
  • Kimberly Johnson, 8, one gold and two silver in 25m breaststroke, 50m Freestyle and 25m Freestyle
  • Lanique Parnell, 10, sixth in the 50m breaststroke
  • Ryan Dickson, 17, seventh in the 50m backstroke

The team is led by head coach Stephen Sewell, assistant coach Tevin Harris, and supported by a number of parents and volunteers. Eleven swimmers traveled to state meet to represent Birmingham Park and Rec.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team only had four months to prepare for the championship, said Sewell, who also works as a senior pool supervisor for the City of Birmingham.

“We practiced five days a week for two hours each day,” Sewell said. “They gave me everything they had in practice. I could not ask for a better team this year.”

“I didn’t put any pressure on the kids. I just said, ‘Hey, let’s have fun and let’s see what we come out with. And that’s what they did.”

Sewell said the win means a lot. “It just shows that the team that we had put forth a lot of effort and the parents are dedicated to swimming. This also shows other kids in our community that they can be a part of something that can develop their life skills and save their own life by knowing how to swim.”