USMS Award Recipient

U.S. Masters Swimming Club of the Year Award

Recipient: Sarasota YMCA Sharks
Year: 2012
LMSC: Florida Gold Coast

Sarasota YMCA Sharks Masters (SYSM) had many fast and successful swimmers. Although these were great accomplishments, the team’s mission and purpose was to create an environment that would foster friendship, comradery, and to bring a healthy lifestyle to as many people as they could serve. The club grew from 3 swimmers in 2002 to eventually become one of the strongest USMS clubs in the country.

Like many successful swim organizations, the Shark Masters program evolved from a USA-S age group program. A long-term relationship benefited both clubs and the community at large. Through fundraising, SYSM has contributed to the purchase of a scoreboard, lane lines, and pool covers. They supported the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign, Swim for Hope (breast cancer Komen Foundation), Tourette’s Syndrome Foundation, and contributed 140 pounds of food for the local food pantry. Members volunteered as officials and coaches to help Special Olympics athletes. Perhaps their greatest gift was financial assistance to help adults and children who could not afford the swim program fees.

SYSM club members wrote articles for SWIMMER Magazine, including ‘Both Sides of the Lane Line’, medical and scientific contributions to ‘The Healthy Swimmer’, and product testing of swim gear reviewed in ‘Swim Bag’. SYSM club members were active LMSC and USMS national volunteers, and coaches attended USMS Swimfest and Masters coaching certification courses

The club hosted annually The Bumpy Jones LCM Classic (~200 participants), Tropical Splash 1K/2.5K/5K open water swims (~ 400 participants), and the Bridge the Bay SCM meet. They also hosted YMCA Nationals for several years and Karlyn Pipes Swim Clinics. About 15% of SYSM members regularly participated in USMS Nationals and members participated in marathon swims like the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim and Swim Around Key West.

The Sharks held many social events, including the “Party in the Park” and a New Year’s Day swim across Big Pass. Their mission to create a healthy lifestyle environment was reflected in the team’s highest award, the All-Star Award. In recognition of their contributions, it is given to ~eight members at the annual banquet each year.