The Magic of the Columbia Neighborhood Swim League (CNSL)
After a fun-filled summer of Columbia Neighborhood Swim League (CNSL), the All-City Championship Meet is the ultimate finale. True to its name, the All-City Meet brings together over 2,000 swimmers from all across Columbia in the culminating event of the season.
Want to learn more about what makes CNSL such a beloved part of Columbia summers? Our CA Aquatics team has lots to say about this special community!
A tight-knit community
First things first: What is CNSL? This recreational league is made up of 14 swim teams located throughout the Columbia, Ellicott City and Clarksville areas. It’s open to swimmers 18 years old or younger of all ability levels.
For CNSL supervisor Kelsey Lord, CNSL has always been the highlight of her summer. Following in the footsteps of her older sister, she started swimming for the Long Reach Marlins at age three and became a swim lesson instructor at 15. After coaching for six years, she considers it a privilege to supervise new coaches coming through the program.
The same goes for CNSL supervisor Mariana Orellana, who started swimming with the Oakland Mills Tiger Sharks at age eight. She now supervises coaches who she actually taught to swim back when she was an instructor.
Pep rallies, charity nights, relays, hula hoop competitions and lots of dance parties (especially to the Cotton Eye Joe) are the kind of bonding experiences that make CNSL so much more than just a swim league.
For both Kelsey and Mariana, CNSL is truly like a family.
“There are countless events that bond together all of the swimmers and coaches,” says Kelsey. “I have so many amazing memories, from the dads coming to flip pancakes in the morning to cheering on the youngest kids competing for the first time. I’m so grateful to have grown up in such a positive and supportive environment, and to be able to make those memories with the next generation.”
A high-energy season finale
After eight weeks of practice, meets and team bonding, Kelsey calls the All-City Meet “the Super Bowl of Columbia summers.”
Part of what makes the event so special is that it brings together the entire league. Each team goes all out to show their spirit, getting decked out in fun outfits and coming up with creative cheers before each race. Once an event wraps up, the teams meet at the end of the diving well to support each other (and may or may not pull the opposing team’s coaches into the water).
For CNSL coaches Nour Farah and Ethan Wettstein, who both got involved with CNSL in elementary school, it’s amazing to see anticipation build all season long for the All-City Meet.