Merritt Athletic swim coach prepares for official pool opening on Saturday

Coaching and being heavily involved with the United States Paralympic team has given Andrew Barranco the opportunity to travel to a dozen countries all over the world.

Beginning August 12, he'll be a team leader for the U.S. Paralympic Team, in Montreal, Canada for the 2013 International Paralympic Committee Swimming World Championships.


These days Barranco, 29, is just as excited for something happening in his own backyard at the Merritt Athletic Club in Towson.

On June 15, from noon to 5 p.m., Merritt and Barranco will host a grand opening for the brand new outdoor pool at the facility located off of Mylander Lane.

"We will have a lot of activities for members and guests and we are encouraging people to bring guests and enjoy the day with us," said Barranco, noting the festive day will have a Luau theme. "We are really looking forward to it."

Radio station Mix 106.5 will broadcast live and games on tap include corn hole and ladder golf.

There will also be Michael Phelps Swim School demos and a free swim lessons at a facility that boasts a pair of 18-foot water slides.

Those slides will also be motivation during 6:30 a.m. summer workouts for members of Merritt Athletic Swimming (MAS) team he coaches.

"I did promise them if they come to the 6:30 practices, we'll use the slide a couple of days a week after practice," said the Perry Hall resident. "That is their incentive for getting up that early."

Barranco started the team with 40 members in 2004 and now has 160 swimmers, including 60 swimmers at the Canton and Eldersburg locations.


In addition, he oversees Merritt's six aquatic facilities and an aquatic staff of over 100 as regional aquatics director.

He was also involved in the design, construction and bidding for the pool which was awarded to Paddock Pools, which began construction in mid-February and was ready for a soft opening Memorial Day.

The 25-yard pool features six lanes which can be roped off for lap swimming, a kiddie pool for children under age four, and 150 deck lounge chairs.

It will also hold summer camps and an intrasquad swim meet there in the fall.

"We are trying to do a lot of things in there," Barranco said. "It's a great fun place for families."

In addition to the competitive swim team that uses both indoor pools, Barranco is starting a novice group to introduce new swimmers to the sport.


That's how he met 10-year-old Jessica Long when he was an assistant at Dundalk Eastfield Swim Club.

"I was there the first day she walked into practice," said Barranco, who later coached the champion paralympian swimmer at the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

Under Barranco's tutelage, Long won the Sullivan Award in 2006 — an honor bestowed on the Top Amateur Athlete in the country.

As team leader for the world championships this summer in Canada, he'll be involved in logistics for the team, but he also plans on being on the pool deck helping athletes.

Given all that he already has on his plate, Barranco shouldn't have a problem doing both jobs with aplomb.