Clark Palmer has a passion for swimming and his passion for teaching and coaching the sport is just as strong.

He started the Tridents Swim Club, a Lake area competitive youth swimming team, about 17 years ago when the Westside Aquatic Center was born in Laurie and has enjoyed imparting his knowledge and driving others to do their best ever since.

Those efforts have paid off once again this year as four Trident swimmers recently qualified for the Missouri Valley District Championships in Platte City, Mo., this weekend.

“I started when I was six (years-old) at a YMCA right across the street from my house and I just lived in the pool,” Palmer recalled. “Swimming is a great sport and it is just the love for the sport. I’ve had kids I’ve trained go somewhere else and I’m ok with that as long as they continue the sport that I love and work so hard to train.

“It is what I love to do and I can have a cruddy day like I did today at work and after practice I feel good,” the coach added with a smile.

Camdenton junior Erin Leezer, Versailles freshman Quinten Ingram, Camdenton 14-year-old Nicholas Rosenthal and Sunrise Beach 11-year-old Taylor Fleming qualified to compete in several events which include the 50 backstroke, 100 backstroke, 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 50 breaststroke and 100 breaststroke. The Tridents compete in the Missouri Valley, a league made up of teams across Missouri and Kansas, and compete about once or twice a month from September to February.

Some Trident swimmers have been competing since the age of nine and even as early as seven and Palmer loves their work ethic.

“Most of them are here at every practice, work hard at it and it always pays off,” Palmer pointed out.

One of those hard workers is Ingram who is a three-time district qualifier and has been with the Tridents for four years. Originally from the Kansas City area, his previous swim instructor advised him to join a team and he is glad he found the Tridents after moving to the Lake area.

“It has been amazing. I’ve had a lot of funny and good moments with my teammates. Overall, it’s been a blast,” the Versailles freshman said.

Ingram also ran cross country for Versailles this past fall and the dual-sport athlete said it has been a big key in improving his endurance. Now, he will look to apply that as he competes in the 100 backstroke, 50 free, 100 breaststroke and 100 fly.

But being a good swimmer also requires a tough mentality and that is another thing Ingram enjoys about the sport.

“I just love the thrill of going down the pool, not knowing where other people are and just pushing myself harder to beat them even though I don’t know where they are,” he noted.

Ingram will certainly make sure he is ready.

“I’m going to make sure I stay on my diet for the rest of the week to get all the energy I need. But most importantly, I’m going to make sure I get a lot of sleep and just try to be as positive as I possibly can,” he stated.

Of course, Ingram and the other three swimmers will know their coach is there to support them with every stroke.

“I say, ‘Pull’ really loud and the other teams make fun of me,” Palmer said laughingly. “Instead of a whistle, I try to make them feel it in the water so I say, ‘Pull’ really loud to get them to both physically and emotionally pull through it.”

The district championship timed finals start Friday at the Platte County Community Center North Natatorium at 5:30 p.m., and the prelims and finals will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 9 a.m.