Club members swim to triumphant season

2013-03-08T19:41:00Z 2013-03-08T19:46:15Z Club members swim to triumphant seasonContributed by Lesly Bailey Times correspondent

VALPARAISO | Valparaiso Swim Club members are celebrating a season of success.

The club includes swimmers ages 5 to 18 with a range of skill levels from novice to state and zone qualifiers.

Dawn Brown, vice president of Valparaiso Swim Club, said the club is marking an all-time high number of swimmers who have moved into the post-season.

Here are highlights of the team’s season:

• Largest VSC team participation: with all-time high of boys’ participation including state

• Numerous swimmers went to Summer SWIMFEST including Bri Pniak finishing in the Top 6 in four events (6th/50M back, 5th/100M back, 4th/100M fly, 3rd/50MFly) and qualifying for Indiana Zone Championships in Columbus. Although not chosen to participate for Winter State Mid-States championships — AAAA times required — Lizzie Simac and Bethany Gatlin had qualified times

• VSC took third place at NWIS Conference: 9 and 10-year-old girls won overall highpoint (Last year this same group won the 8-and-under overall high point.)

• Numerous first-place team wins and high point trophies/individual high point winners throughout the season

• 9-10 Boys 200 Free Relay made it to state: Eli Sandberg, Zach Juhl, Kyle Hahn and Liam Shepherd

• 11-12 Girls Medley Relay team - Jackie Bontrager (back), Lizzie Simac (breast), Bethany Gatlin (butterfly), and Hannah Shepherd (free) - is seeded first in the state in the relay and seeded in the Top 10 and higher in multiple events

• Team Record Breakers this season: Bri Pniak — 13&14 1650y (the mile), Janine Holleworth 9&10 200 butterfly, Kristyn Hoffman 9&10 200back and 400IM, Lizzie Simac 11&12 200 breaststroke, Bethany Gatlin 11&12 200 fly, 1650y (the mile), Shannon McCall 9&10 1650y (the mile), Carter Dahlgren 13&14 1650y, Marisa “Mojo” Johnson 13&14 100IM and Shenal Karunaratne 11&12 1650y (the mile)

• “Spirit Award” for the 2013 Munster all area 10 & Under championship

• “Most POPular” Award at Popcorn Fest

The club was established in 1977 by Paul Bretscher, a former Valparaiso High School swimmer, who saw the need for a year-round competitive swimming program. Through a collaborative relationship with the Valparaiso High School, the club is able to utilize the high school pool.

The club’s mission is to develop in each child an excitement about competitive swimming, a respect for the abilities of others, an appreciation of the importance of hard work and self-discipline, a desire to constantly improve, the ability to win or lose graciously, and a pride in self and fellow swimmers.

Members collect groceries for the Northwest Indiana Food Bank and support the non-profit organization 500 Turkeys through a “Swimming in Gravy” drive.

Events include the Kids Jr. Triathlon on June 15 that is open to children ages 6 to 13 and the October Fun Run, the club’s annual Spirit Sprint one- and two-mile races on Oct. 12 at Rogers Lakewood Park.

Brown said they are always in need of volunteers for these events.

Tryouts for the club’s next season will be at 6:30 p.m. April 9 and 10 at the Valparaiso High School. Spring/summer practices begin April 15.

Club membership is open to children ages 5-18, who can pass a skills evaluation, which is held on designated evenings before the start of each season. This is not a “learn-to-swim program.” Previous swimming instruction is generally required before a child will have the basic minimum skills.

For more information, visit or contact Brown at (219) 916-4792.

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