Women's Tapping Team Competes for National Title

July 9, 2015

Are you ready for the fastest two minutes in tapping? Four women from Louisville Water Company are, and next week they will be traveling to Anaheim, California to prove it. There, they will compete as a team for a national title that’s all about tapping. First things first: We aren’t talking about tap dancing. We are talking about tapping water mains—drilling into a cement-lined ductile iron pipe that’s pressurized and filled with water, then installing a copper service line. This is something Louisville Water crews do every day to install new water mains for customers, though usually not in a race against the clock. The annual timed competition is sponsored by the American Water Works Association and held during its annual conference every year. To qualify, teams had to win a regional competition, which is what the Louisville Water women’s team did at AWWA’s Kentucky-Tennessee conference last July in Chattanooga. They will compete against eight other all-women’s teams from utilities across the country. The women’s tapping team competing next week includes employees Jayne Clark, Kate Farrow, Toni Estes and Minnette Jones. Together they have a combined 64 years of experience at Louisville Water, and three—Clark, Estes and Jones—are members of Local 1683. Jayne Clark, Field Customer Service Representative, and Kate Farrow, Manager of Field Operations, were both part of the original women’s tapping team, which won the national title in 2000, 2003 and 2004. (Shortly after that, Louisville Water decided not to compete.) “Oh, this has been giving me flashbacks,” joked Farrow, who no longer works out in the field. “I’d forgotten how much fun it can be.” In preparation for the competition, the women have been practicing several times a week in hopes of winning back the national title and claiming bragging rights for the company. They have broken down each step of the process and set benchmark times to achieve, and they have agonized over the process to see where they can shave off time. Every second will count in these tapping competitions.  Women’s teams typically finish between two and three minutes. “We put a lot into it. You have to have a personal connection to this,” says Farrow, adding that the competition has pushed her to increase her personal workouts to increase strength and be the best. The dedicated team held one of their last practices before the big competition at the training center at Allmond Avenue on Wednesday. Many of their fellow employees stopped by to watch and cheer them on, mirroring the high energy (and potentially distracting) environment the team will encounter at the competition on Monday. The verdict: They logged their fastest time so far! “I told you I’m better under pressure,” said Minnette Jones, Plumber Leader, beaming after the practice. “When there’s a crowd, I’ll perform!” Toni Estes, Plumber Leader, was equally excited. “I’m so proud!” Estes added that before the women compete on Monday, she will be trying to hype the crowd so the team can use that positive energy to propel them to victory. And though their fellow employees and the customers they serve will be halfway across the country, they know everyone will be rooting for them from Louisville, too. Good luck to the team!