REDDING, Calif. - The annual North Valley Swimming Competition kicked off in Redding on Friday, bring together teams from Chico, Oroville, Gridley, Redding, and Paradise.
“It’s really surreal. It’s been a long season and an emotional season and being back up here for a lot of my senior swimmers who are going away to college it’s fun just seeing everybody having that kind of familiar event happen,” said Paradise swim coach Devin Kutil.
Last year, the competition was canceled as the Carr Fire filled the pool with ash.
“It was really scary, to be swimming and see all the ashes floating in the water. So it’s really good to come back from that and have the meet this year,” said Audrey Bull with the Redding Aqua Ducks.
Then a few months later, the Paradise Piranhas faced the destruction of the Camp Fire.
That fire caused a portion of their team to move away.
A member of the team said, “Our team has actually diminished in population size, but I’m pretty glad about the turn out this year.”
Now a year later, everyone has come back stronger and faster.
Ready to compete and enjoy the sport they love with a family they’ve created.
“When you think about the disaster and trauma and things like that, one of the things that’s really helped our swimmers is being able to go through those stages of emotion together,” said Coach Kutil.
still leaving a little room for competition.
One Chico AquaJet swimmer said, “I’m excited to see how it will all turn out in the end.”