The Sea Colony Sharks swim team is kicking off their 13th season with a splash as they looked to sweep their home meet streak on Thursday, June 30.
With head coach Janna Schneider at the helm, the team has swum to victory in their first three meets of the summer, defeating the Delaware Riptide Swim Team of Middletown 290-251, the Dover Dolphins of Dover 365-146 and the Onley Recreation Swim Team of Onley, Va., 391-105.
The Sharks’ season runs from mid-June to the end of July, concluding with a championship meet for all swimmers in the Delmarva Swim Association who achieve the league’s qualifying times during the regular season.
According to Schneider, “Swimming is a unique sport when it comes to the teams. It is an individual sport where beating your personal best, even if you don’t come in first, is a win.”
Sea Colony swimmers have already seen dozens of personal best times, and many athletes have already qualified to swim in the championship meet.
During their six-week season, the Sharks work hard five days a week. Monday through Thursday, the first group of swimmers jumps into the pool at 7 a.m. This season, coaches have added a Friday morning stroke and turn clinic to the schedule to give swimmers time for extra practice and individual attention.
Assistant Coach Becca Webb — a longtime Shark herself, having swum for the team for 12 seasons before joining the coaching staff — said, “The three things that can make or break their races are their starts, turns and finishes. They should be quick off the block and off the wall, and fast into the wall for their finish. Those three things could be the key to success during a meet, so we have planned the main focus of the Friday practice to be turns, starts and finishes.”
Evan Davis, 13, said his coaches are “great” and “really help me focus on my strokes. They’ll point out if anything is wrong with my strokes so I can fix it.”
This year, the Sharks are also bringing back their “team buddies” program, where coaches randomly pair younger swimmers with an older buddy. So far, coaches and swimmers alike have made special note of the special community bond that this summer’s team has built.
Schneider said, “In our short six-week season, we become a big family,” adding that the help of parents and volunteers keeps the team going. “Our parents and volunteers get the whole family involved,” she said. “Without the parent support and volunteers, we wouldn’t have a team.”
Veteran Shark Dylan Tuttle, 15, said his favorite thing about being on the team is “seeing all of the little kids rising up and getting better.”
Tuttle recalled his early days on the team, of which he’s been a part since he was 8. “I remember being in that first half-an-hour or hour practice and seeing the big kids in the other lane, and I was like, ‘What?!’ Now I am that person,” he said with a smile.
His teammate Emily Trout, 12, added that she loves being a Shark because it means “getting to be around all of the other Sharks and my friends. I love the coaches and being able to cheer everyone on.”
Teamwork and sportsmanship is the name of the game, according to Schneider, who said, “Not many other sports have 5- to 18-year-old athletes, male and female, training and competing together.”
The community was set to cheer on the Sharks as they took on the Sussex Community Swim Team of Georgetown in their last home meet of the season on Thursday, June 30, at 6 p.m. (after Coastal Point press time) at the Sea Colony Aquatic Center on Pine Shore Boulevard near Bethany Beach.