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by Daniel Paulling

September 27, 2019

The Ancient Mariners honored former teammate and raised money for USMS Swimming Saves Lives Foundation through event

Montgomery Ancient Mariners member David Harmon and the rest of his lanemates wanted to do something special for their SmartyPants Vitamins Summer Fitness Challenge in July.

To honor Margot Pettijohn, who swam with them before passing away last December at 72, his lane, nicknamed “The Stroke Lane,” decided to do a pyramid IM set that went from a 100 to a 400 and then a 400 to a 100 to get the 2,000 meters needed to complete the Summer Fitness Challenge, the second event in the three-swim Fitness Series.

“It was challenging,” Harmon says. “That was quite a set to do.”

He was one of 17 Ancient Mariners who signed up for the Summer Fitness Challenge. The club was successful in drawing a big number of registrants through simple means: word of mouth. It sent out emails and talked about the event during workouts to get people to participate.

The Ancient Mariners were pushing hard for participation because the Summer Fitness Challenge helps support the USMS Swimming Saves Lives Foundation. Net entry proceeds from all Fitness Series events go to the foundation, which annually grants funds to swim lessons providers that teach adults how to swim nationwide.

The Ancient Mariners don’t teach adult learn-to-swim lessons—they are run by Maryland’s Montgomery County Department of Recreation, which also teaches swim lessons for adults—but the fundraising component of the Summer Fitness Challenge gave them a chance to support a cause that’s dear to them.

“It was a motivation for a lot of us to sign up for it—because the money was going to the program,” Harmon says. “One of the reasons we put on the challenge was to raise money for the program.”

The Summer Fitness Challenge raised around $6,000 for the foundation, which has awarded nearly $550,000 since its inception in 2012 and has helped thousands of adults learn to swim.

The Ancient Mariners’ coach gave participants a few 2,000-meter sets they could choose from to complete their swim during the club’s regularly scheduled workout.

One lane did 5 x 400s that included freestyle, but Harmon and his lanemates weren’t about to do that. Harmon recalls how when their lane received a set, Pettijohn would find a way to work some stroke into it because she didn’t like doing freestyle, and everyone followed along.

“If anybody kind of said, ‘Gee, I don’t think I want to do all that much stroke today,’ there was always the epithet, ‘We don’t want a wimpy workout, do we?’” Harmon says. “She wouldn’t put up with any kind of slacking in our lane. She pretty much ruled the roost in the lane.”

Whether you want to host a fun workout, remember a friend, or raise money for the USMS Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, the Fitness Series can be great for club engagement. You can learn more here.


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