Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1109088

Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 1, 2014

Sharks make swimming fun

By Derek Helling, Sports Editor | Jan 30, 2014
Courtesy of: Brenda Adrian The 2013-14 Washington County YMCA Water Sharks swimming team is composed of 85 students ranging in age from five to 18 years of age. They compete with other Iowa YMCAs in both individual and relay events.

The Washington County YMCA offers many programs for children and adults of all physical abilities and interests. One of the major programs that has been a part of the YMCA’s annual activities is the Washington Water Sharks swimming team.
Head coach Brenda Adrian has been involved with the program for over 20 years, 12 of those as a coach, but the program dates further back than her time. In fact, Adrian swam on the team as a child herself.
“It’s been going for at least four decades. Maxine and Milo Steele were two of its biggest proponents in this community for years,” Adrian said.
The program currently has an enrollment of 85 students, ranging in age from 5 to 18 years old. Those students are divided for competition into five groups by age. There is a division for 8 and under, one for 9- and 10-year-olds, one for 11- and 12-year-olds, one for 13- and 14-year-olds and then the last for 15-to-21-year-olds.
The Water Sharks’ regular season goes from Nov. 1 through the first weekend of February.  After the regular season ends, those swimmers who qualify will compete in the state’s sectionals for the opportunity to compete for a state championship.
This year the Water Sharks are co-hosting the Iowa sectionals, which will involve six area YMCAs, at the Burlington YMCA.
Adrian says she would love to see Washington eventually host a sectional or even a state meet. The issue right now is that the pool in the Washington County YMCA is 5 feet shorter than the regulation length.
“I would really love to see the school district, city and YMCA ‘pool’ together to bring a regulation-sized pool here. It would be a tremendous asset for our program and the community,” Adrian commented.
Adrian went on to say that currently she will have as many as 23 athletes in the pool at a time, which presents challenges for the swimmers. The lack of a regulation pool also presents a challenge for those who wish to compete in swimming in other venues but the YMCA.
“Right now those students who wish to swim for school have to commute 45 minutes one way five days a week. That’s hard on families and puts them at a disadvantage,” Adrian added.
Despite the challenges, the program has enjoyed its share of success. The Water Sharks were the sectionals champions last year and two of the last three years. All but two of the swimmers 13 and older qualified for sectionals last year. Of the 76 swimmers who qualified for sectionals last season, half of them qualified for the state meet.
Adrian says she can’t take all of the credit for the program’s success, however. It’s somewhat of a family affair. Her daughter Brittanie coaches the athletes 10 years and younger. Adrian also gives a lot of credit to the parents involvement.
“Nothing would happen here without our parents. Many of them have gotten certified as officials and the rest all volunteer in some way to pull this off,” Adrian explained.
If a parent or student is interested, they can contact the Washington County YMCA’s front desk or visit the Water Shark Web site, http://www.washingtonwatersharks.shutterfly.com to learn more. Adrian says that no student who puts in the effort will be turned away regardless of ability level.
The Water Sharks will be in action again on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Keokuk YMCA at noon. All YMCA swimming meets are free of charge and open to the public.

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