When a community and its athletes collaborate for a common goal, great things can happen.
The first sign of good things to come was in June of 2015, when the North Wasco County Aquatic Center opened a new pool, funded by a community bond.
The pool replaced a landmark that has been a community swimming staple for the past 80 years.
On July 22, the community restated its support as 23 members of The Dalles Swim Team and assistant coach Allie Wood participated in their annual Dolphin Dive Fundraiser, raising nearly $1,300 to purchase new equipment and offset costs accrued during the calendar year.
“It makes me feel really good that our community cares about us and helped us get a new pool,” said Silver Division swimmer Kendall Webber, 12. “It was awesome when other teams came for our meet and said how clear and clean it was.”
The swim members sought donations from parents, friends and businesses before the event.
This was a pledge-per-lap event, where swimmers had 60 minutes to swim as many laps as possible. Swimmers set a goal of how many laps they wanted to swim and how much money they would like to raise. Supporters were given an option to either pledge per lap, or give a flat donation.
In all, the team swam 1,140.5 laps total, or approximately 35 miles.
“I got to swim with my brother (Sawyer) and I swam 13 laps to help raise money,” said TDST Fishies athlete, Thatcher Dray, 6.
Prizes of USA Swimming T-shirts and TDST towels were awarded to the top-3 swimmers in each group, ranging from Gold, Silver, Bronze and Fishies.
Leading the Gold group was Lydia DiGennaro, who had an event-high 79 laps.
Maisie Bandel-Ramirez racked up 73 laps to take first place in the Silver group, and Leo Lemann added 53 laps for first in the Bronze Division.
In the Fishies group, Colin Webber grabbed top honors with 45 laps.
Through a cascade of cheering fans, supporters and teammates, Carter Randall, 10, powered through with an adrenaline rush that helped him meet his numbers.
“It feels great that people in the community support us by sponsoring our fundraisers and supporting our swim meets,” said Randall, a Silver swimmer.
The winner for the most money raised wins a gift certificate to Swim Outlet. They are scheduled to be announced at the team’s season-ending party Monday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m.
At the start of the event, all of the swimmers set goals for themselves to meet or exceed, which can be a daunting task.
TDST board member and treasurer, Amie DiGennaro continues to be amazed by the driven and passionate attitudes the kids show for this fundraiser because they never have to worry about counting out laps, so when they do put a number on it, the swimmers show a level of pride and satisfaction at knowing their hard work and diligence is rewarded with top results.
“I like the Dolphin Dive because it’s a fun and good thing and I’m glad that I beat my goal,” said Sawyer Dray, 8, a member of the Fishies Division.
With some of the funds raised, the swim team plans to purchase new fins and flippers, especially since there has been a huge spike in Fishies level participation.
Most of the team members are still new to the sport and program, but coach Scott McKay and Wood have been able to help them reach their summer goals with challenging practices, meets, and fun events.
“We have lots of new swim team families and very young swimmers, so we are getting to know each other and building a strong future for The Dalles Swim Team,” Amie DiGennaro said. “The older swimmers are mentoring the younger swimmers and I love the relationship that builds across the team.”
The Dalles Swim Team next heads to Bend this weekend, starting at 5 p.m. Friday, for its final meet of the season.
DiGennaro announced that there is a Stroke and Turn official workshop in the planning stages with a goal to get at least 10 parents and community members certified by next June.
With a surge in signups and kids wanting to get in the water with their friends, the future of the program appears to be brighter each day.
Being able to compete and spend time in the pool is a great element, but Rylee Camp circles back to the unrelenting support showed by the people.
“It makes the whole team feel proud that the community cares about our swim team,” said Camp, 8, a Fishies member. “It feels amazing to me because when you are in a sport and the town supports you, it makes me feel like I can do more new things than last year.”
To donate, call 541-980-2106 or send checks to TDST, P.O. Box 157, The Dalles, OR. 97058.