By Wendy Brown
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs Office
Wiesbaden Wahoo Tyler Peng, 8, won gold medals in all eight races available in his age group at the 2013 European Forces Swim League championships this year.
Not only that, but he broke records in the 8-and-under boys’ 200-and-100-meter freestyle races. He swam the 200-meter race in 3:05.60 and the 100-meter race in 1:26.23.
“Someday when he’s in the Olympics, I’m going to be able to say I coached him when he was 8,” said Jason Wieman, the Wahoos’ head coach.
Peng’s wins added to a great overall performance on behalf of all 30 members of the team who competed in the championships in Eindhoven, the Netherlands Feb. 16-17. Chantel Wynn, a senior at Wiesbaden High School, won seven of the eight events in which she competed. Both Wynn and Peng won the high-point awards for their age groups.
The team steadily improved throughout the year, and he is extremely proud of how well everyone performed, said Wieman. The team had to practice at various pools throughout the season, but the swimmers and their parents rose to the occasion and thrived despite the adversity.
Peng’s mother, Lee Peng, said Tyler’s older sister Kristy, 14, is also a swimmer, and that is how he got started in the sport.
Peng said he started swimming competitively when he was 6 years old and joined the Wahoos. His favorite swim stroke is the butterfly, which he worked hard to master during his first two years as a competitive swimmer.
Peng, who attends the Maler Backer Schule in Mainz-Gonsenheim, said his goal for next year is to try and drop time, although he has not set any specific goals yet. His swimming hero is 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte, who has won five gold medals.
The first year Peng competed with the Wahoos he qualified for three events, but did not win any medals, said Lee Peng.
The second year Peng won two gold medals, two silver medals, two bronze medals, one fourth place and one fifth place, Lee Peng said.
This year Tyler’s performance was exceptional.
“It kind of came as a surprise, especially when he broke the records,” said Lee Peng. “We knew he would do well this year, but we didn’t expect that he would do so well. He is progressing well. We have a great team. We have great volunteer coaches. We work more like a family and everyone supports each other.”
Lee Peng said she attributes Peng’s success to the wonderful coaches he has had with the Wahoos, Cathy Ruhl, who has coached Peng every year he has swam with the Wahoos, and Theresa Morse-Hill, who coached Peng the first two years he was on the team.
“They are very dedicated, very patient, very encouraging. It really helps, especially when you are new here,” Lee Peng said. “They played a big part in helping him to learn the basics.”
Everyone has to work together to make the Wahoos possible, Peng said. The coaches volunteer their time, and swimmers and parents hold bake sales to raise money for the team.
As for other Wahoos achievements at the championships, Sophie Parker came in second in the 13-14-year-old girls’ 100-meter breaststroke, and Jon Roddy came in third in the 13-14-year-old boys’ 100-meter butterfly and the 50-meter freestyle. Rhianna Hill came in third in the 17-19-year-old girls’ 100-meter butterfly. Drew Parker came in third in the 17-19-year-old girls’ 100-meter breaststroke and the 400-meter freestyle. As a team, Wiesbaden came in third in the 13-14-year-old mixed medley relays.
The championships ended another excellent season for the Wahoos. The team was also the Tyrolean Division champion this year for the fourth year in a row. Anyone interested in learning more about the team can contact organizers at email@example.com.