For the 110 South Carroll youngsters who call themselves "Serpents," some of life's best lessons are learned in the cool blue water of a swimming pool.
These young swim team members, who range in age from 4 to 17 years, wear the black and gold suits of the South Carroll Serpents -- the South Carroll Swim Club's swim team.
Team practice begins the day after Memorial Day and continues -- five days each week -- through the end of July. Kim Easterday, who has coached the team for six years, said two practices are held each day and one practice usually takes one to 1 1/2 hours.
"Some kids swim both practices," she added.
Mrs. Easterday said swimmers of all abilities participate on the team. For some, the goal is swimming the length of South Carroll Swim Club's 25-meter pool. Other swimmers concentrate on perfecting strokes and improving times.
Swim meets, held on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon, are called "dual meets" when two teams participate and scores are tallied. This year, the Serpents participated in five dual meets: three at home, one at Severna Park and one at Cockeysville.
A swimmer may choose the individual medley, performing one lap in each of the four basic strokes -- the butterfly, back stroke, breast stroke and freestyle. Other events involve racing 25 to 100 meters, with the distance determined by the age of the participant, said Mrs. Easterday. Swimmers may also race in team relays, which are held near the end of the meet.
"A lot of kids will be swimming in one event, and you have some that are good at all four," said Mrs. Easterday. "The top swimmers concentrate on qualifying for the championship meet at the end of the season."
Mrs. Easterday, who said she "grew up on a swim team," !B coaches the swim team and women's lacrosse at Western Maryland College. Being South Carroll Swim Club's coach is a perfect summer job for the mother of three, whose children are team members.
During a summer season, Mrs. Easterday sees young swimmers blossom. She said swim team participation builds confidence and social skills.
"It is really a good sport for self-esteem and motivation," she said.
South Carroll Swim Club's team is ranked as a No. 2 division team (out of seven divisions.) The team is a member of the Central Maryland Swim League, which comprises teams from private swim clubs.
On Saturday, South Carroll Swim Club's annual awards picnic was held, with each of the 110 team members receiving a participation trophy.
Super Serpent plaques, the top prizes of the season, went to Kristin Carter and Brent Becker for being the unsung heroes of the swim team. Mrs. Easterday said Kristin and Brent were recognized for "doing everything they could to help out the team."
A Senior Recognition plaque was awarded to assistant swim coach Kristen Krug for 10 years of swim team participation.
Trophies for the most improved male and female swimmers in five age categories were awarded based on swimmers' times, number of meets and practice attendance.
Congratulations to Most Improved Swimmers Meghan McConville and Jason Federline in the age 6-and-under category; Jessica Krug and Meghan Dimond (who tied) and John Williams in 8-and-under; Catie Easterday and Chuck Kistler in ages 9 and 10; Beth Williams and Ryan Kay in ages 11 and 12; and Katie Bucher and Kevin Danko in ages 13 and 14.
Mount Airy resident Mike Wagner might have been asleep when his phone rang around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, but it didn't take him long to wake up when he heard the news.
Chris Barritt, who made the call, told Mr. Wagner that he was the winner of the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company's car raffle. The drawing was held Saturday at the end of the weeklong Firemen's Carnival.
Mr. Barritt said Mr. Wagner's ticket was sold about 8 p.m. Saturday. It was one of three chances purchased for $5 for Mr. Wagner by his mother-in-law, Hallie Boone.
Mr. Wagner was working on his car when Mrs. Boone decided she would go to the carnival Saturday evening to buy some chances.
"God bless mothers-in-law," said Mr. Wagner. "I probably wouldn't have bought a chance unless she offered to pick them up."
Mr. Wagner picked up his prize -- a sporty, teal-colored 1993 Ford Mustang LX -- Monday evening. He said he plans to keep the car.
On Tuesday, he drove it to work to show it to his co-workers at the Harvey Construction Co. of Bethesda, where he is a superintendent.
Carroll County crab connoisseurs have two days to purchase advance tickets for the Super Crab Feed and Dance being put on Aug. 14 by Mount Airy's American Legion Gold Star Post 191.
The adults-only event includes all-you-can-eat steamed crabs, crab soup, fried chicken, corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes, to be served from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Music will be provided by the Rick Holley Band from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Advance tickets are being sold at $17 per person until Sunday. After the deadline, tickets will be on sale for $20 at Post 191, 801 Prospect Road in Mount Airy.
Information: (301) 829-9161.