Public school swimming starts its opening lap


January 08, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

At last, a public high school swimming league has been set up by the Parents for Swimming in Anne Arundel County.

The group, formed last spring to promote competitive swimming in county high schools, has scheduled its first championship meet for 1 p.m. Feb. 6 at the six-lane Severna Park YMCA pool.

The meet is officially sanctioned by the Board of Education as part of the public high school physical education program, but it could be a step toward something long overdue in this waterway county.

It was last June that Dan Ramsbottom, one of the chief coordinators of the group, said he would "hold the county championships in a tub in my back yard if I have to," but that won't be necessary now.

If successful, the meet could lead to a full-scale program. At least that is the hope of the organizers.

Only Severn School and Archbishop Spalding, which compete in the Maryland Scholastic Association, field high school swimming teams in Anne Arundel County.

All 12 county public high schools are expected to be represented with a team at the 11-event meet.

"We've got about 100 high school kids who have signed up and will close the entries on Jan. 20 by which time we hope to have another 20 to 25 kids," Ramsbottom said.

Ramsbottom and other volunteers dedicated to youth swimming had been disappointed for a long time that the county does not have a public school league. Despite the drawback, a good number of young swimmers have earned college scholarships.

Swimmers from youth teams such as the Severna Park YMCA, Crofton Aquatics and the Navy Juniors have earned scholarships. Among them is Ramsbottom's daughter, Jeri, who is on a full ride at Clemson University.

Certainly a high school league culminated by a county championship meet could enhance such opportunities in a county laden with thousands of young swimmers.

Prince George's County is the model program studied by the Anne Arundel group. The Prince George's program started with a similar parents group in 1980 and within five years was sanctioned by its Board of Education.

"We are fortunate to have a dedicated group of hard-working volunteers throughout the county who want to create avenues for scholarships and opportunities for our high school swimmers," said Ramsbottom.

"We are about 20 years behind Montgomery and Prince George's County, but, hopefully, this is a good start."

With volunteers working feverishly since last summer to get the word out to the kids, the group has gotten off to a good start.

"We want this to be as positive as possible and, hopefully, it will grow into something big for the kids," Ramsbottom said. "That's what we are doing it for, the kids."

fTC Swimmers will pay entry fees of $1.50 per individual events and $2 per person for relays and are allowed to compete in no more than three events. All the proceeds after expenses will go to the Severna Park YMCA youth fund.

Medals will go down to 12th place for individual events, sixth place for relays, and three places for the team championship.

Events will include: the 200-yard medley relay, 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 400 freestyle relay and a 200 freestyle mixed relay.

The mixed relay was added to accommodate youths who may not be as efficient as others and not able to qualify for other events. "We want it to be as equitable as can be for all the kids," Ramsbottom said.

Sponsors at $5 per event for the championship meet are sought, and anyone interested in contributing may call Ramsbottom at (410) 551-5115 or one of the parent organizers.

Parent coordinators for each of the school community teams, which will be accepting swimmers until Jan. 20, are: Annapolis, Ron List, (410) 266-5495; Arundel, Joy Donlan, (410) 268-0498; Broadneck, Craig Bauer, (410) 757-4826; Chesapeake, Carolyn Keenan, (410) 437-2445; Glen Burnie, Berndt McDivitt, (410) 768-8790; Meade, Bob and Susan Houck, (410) 551-8677; Northeast, Darlen and Ron Jones, (410) 437-0285; Old Mill, Patty Haynie, (410) 987-9573; Severna Park, Pat Scheirer, (410) 544-3236; and South River, Bob Davis, (410) 798-4823.

Only high school students are eligible for the championship and anyone from the North County and Southern districts interested in competing should contact Ramsbottom (410) 551-5115. The Parents for Swimming in Anne Arundel County will videotape the event, and the group's Vic Sulin hopes to make a presentation to the school board.

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