Mark Goode, left, and Jenna Murphy are members of the Plain City Sharks swimming team. They are pictured warming up prior to a recent home meet.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
A local swimming program has grown by leaps and bounds during the three short years of its existence.
The Plain City Sharks numbered 74 youngsters during their inaugural season of 2017.
In the past two years, team membership has ballooned.
“We had 98 swimmers in 2018 and this year, we’re up to 130,” said club official Angie Matessa.
Team leaders may have received an indication of the program’s future the very first year.
‘We were really hoping we’d get maybe 15 to 20 swimmers during our first season,” said Matessa. “When we had 74 show up, we were surprised, especially since it was something new to Plain City.
“We couldn’t believe the number of swimmers who came out for the team a couple of years ago.
“We advertised this as a fun summer event,” she said. “We wanted kids to come out for the team, regardless of their swimming skills.”
With that in mind, the Sharks are a combined competitive-recreational type of program.
“Of our numbers this year, I’d say that 25 or 30 of them swim year-round and are what you would call competitive swimmers,” said Matessa. “Most of our swimmers, however, are in it for recreational purposes.
“Their friends and neighbors were getting involved and we have a great swimming spot here.”
The team practices and conducts home meets at the Plain City Aquatics Center, which is located in Pastime Park.
The team is guided by Michael Waun, who is the pool manager in Plain City. He has extensive USA, YMCA and high school coaching experience.
Although there are competitive swimmers on the team, there is not a huge emphasis on final scores of the season’s meets.
“The kids have been able to enjoy swimming at their own ability,” said Matessa. “What they work on is trying to beat their own times in various events.”
The Sharks have performed in a handful of meets this year against teams such as Dublin Atlantic and Pacific and Sycamore Hills.
They are scheduled to swim tonight against Olentangy at the Powell swimming pool.
The Sharks’ final home meet of the season will be held on Wednesday, July 10 against Dublin Arctic.
The NEW league championship is scheduled for Monday, July 15 at the Dublin North pool.
Swimming is a sport that has attracted just a handful of athletes over the past few years at Jonathan Alder High School.
Matessa hopes the Sharks’ growth will eventually translate into expansion of the Pioneer program.
“We are hopefully raising awareness of swimming in our community,” she said. “We have 13 eighth-grade students in our program and we hope this will increase our high school numbers in the years ahead.”
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