Swim club has been helping youngsters for 20 years

Stingrays build sense of family

Lydia Williams Special to the Leader

Shawano Community Swim Club, having grown to 43 members under the supervision of four coaches, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this season.

Shawano Community Swim Club, also known as Shawano Stingrays, was created in 1997. Walberto Colon and a couple other parents decided to step up and coach the swimmers.

“The club becomes a seed bed for excellent athletes, and (they) use tools that they were taught to guide their life, rather than the world dictating their destiny,” Colon said.

Colon has had help along the way, including several coaches that he can depend on. CJ Kane became involved with the club when he swam in high school and has now been an assistant coach for five years and a head coach for one year.

Last year, two more coaches were added to the team. Liz Reed was brought on as another head coach, and Emme Quandt was added as an assistant coach for athletes 7 to 18 years old.

Some of the members have been swimming their whole lives, while others started later. No matter when the members joined, the club fosters a sense of family.

“I have never been part of a team where there is so much team support,” swimmer Camden Kroll said. “We are always cheering our teammates on, and that makes our swim meets a lot of fun.”

Kenzie Buss started her swimming career with the Stingrays and now competes at the NCAA Division 1 level for Louisville. Her four years of collegiate swimming are almost up, and she does not want it to end.

“In college, there (were) many days I struggled with getting into the pool because I knew how cold it was going to be. Today, I struggle with the thought of it all coming to an end,” Buss said.

Other swimmers have also achieved success after their time with the Stingrays.

Diane Martin believes that the club has been outstanding for her four children, Alex Soper, Kenzie Soper, Malory Soper and Zach Soper. Martin knows that the sport will be in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

“All four of the kids have developed self-esteem and confidence to do things that they never would have done before,” Martin said.

Along with a sport that can be performed at any age, skills that can be used forever and great teammates, the club gives young swimmers their first taste of competition.

Shawano hosts two swim meets per season in addition to going to 15 to 20 other meets from Wausau to Fond du Lac.

Tryouts for new swimmers will be held from from 6:15-7 p.m. April 26 through May 1 For information, email shawanostingrays@gmail.com.