By Chelsea White//USA SWIMMING Communications Intern
USA Swimming was founded on the idea of expanding swimming and building awareness about the sport. From learning the basics to reaching one’s competitive potential, success in and out of the water comes from a lot of dedication within the swimming community by providing opportunities for swimmers of all ages. One way of achieving these fundamental goals is putting on events that push and spark the competitive drive of athletes at a young age. The I.M. Xtreme Challenge Games is one of those driving forces.
The I.M. Xtreme Challenge Games or IMX Games started six years ago with the originating concept of promoting versatility in age-group swimming with the ultimate goal of enabling long-term success in the sport. Conducted from October to early February, the IMX Games consist of six different series meets hosted in cities spanning the country. Young swimmers ranging from ages 9-16 qualify for a meet by earning a minimum “power point” score of 1500 which is the equivalent of an averaging USA Swimming Standard “BB” competition score.
With the last two of the six meets concluding last weekend (Jan. 31-Feb. 2) it was evident that this year’s series was the most successful IMX Games yet to date. One meet in particular is catching huge amounts of steam as it nearly reached capacity with participating swimmers. Hosted at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., the northeast event has been a model meet when it comes to the IMX Games. A large part of that success has come from the hard work and commitment of USA Swimming Age Group Development Committee.
Bill Marlin, who was a founder of the IMX Games, was recently handed the torch as chair of the Age Group Development Committee after a four-year term came to a close on the former chair, Tony Young. Marlin, who also is the club owner and head coach of the Potomac Marlins Swim Club in Fairfax, Va., agreed to take over the committee after already being a vocal and active member of the committee for multiple years. With the help of his wife, Marlin has seen the progress of the northeast meet come down to a couple essential factors.
“The success of the northeast meet has mainly been the time of year that is takes place—that is the primary reason; a great location and great facilities has been another part,” Marlin said.
While other IMX Games meets have not yet reached the participation numbers of the northeast event, which featured 1,200 swimmers this year, Marlin and the committee are hopeful that those numbers will continue to grow in the years to come. Especially as those who do participate in the IMX Games have nothing but encouraging words to say about their experiences.
Marlin added, “The meets have been so well done and put together that coaches will go back and say how great of a meet is was. Kids will also say how much they loved the meet. I can’t tell you how many times a parent or coach caught me on deck during a meet and said that this was their kid’s favorite meet of the year.”
The IMX Games gives young swimmers a chance to improve their swimming abilities and improve their success at a competitive level. With the emphasis of meeting “power point” standards and increasing individual performance in event heats, the IMX Games are giving athletes an environment to become better-rounded in the sport of swimming. As participation continues to grow each year, and the support from the swimming community increases, the IMX Games only have enthusiastic expectations for what is to come in the future of the event.
Marlin concluded, “As the Chair of the Committee, USA Swimming was asking what is next for the IMX Games—what is the next step for the evolution of this meet? So we are really in the process of trying to come up with some ideas of where we can take this meet and how we can make it more important or higher quality in the minds of the athletes. We want it to be a bigger meet where swimmers want to come and participate and ultimately help grow some of these other IMX meets that are not doing quite as well to be as successful as the northeast meet has been.”