Swimming Program Survives; Thrives

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Swimming Program Survives; Thrives

The 2011 Wantagh Girls' Swim Team and coaches

Kristina Goehringer, Sports Editor

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We have problems with our budget. Still it came as a surprise when the Board of Education cut girls’ and boys’ swimming last spring. It was the only varsity sport cut from the budget.

Nobody anticipated the amount of people that would attend the April, 2011 Town Hall meeting to support the swim team. Not only did most of the boys and girls swimmers attend, but parents of the students, alumni swimmers, and all the people who helped Coach Rafferty run the teams attended. With half of the room filled with swimmers, the meeting became too crowded and was moved to the auditorium, which is a bit unusual for a Wantagh Town Hall meeting. In the auditorium, everyone spoke up against the board’s decisions. Stephanie Robbins, an alumnus, described how this swim team shaped her and cutting it out of the budget was unfair. The one and only reason for that, according to Dr. Lydia Begley, the then Superintendent of Wantagh School district, was that it was too much money to fit into the overall budget.

The boys’program includes high school and middle students on the swim and dive team, as well as the girls’ program. Parents reminded the Board of Ed about how many kids would be affected by cutting the programs. The bickering went on and on for three hours. Finally, Dr. Begley said, “All of this information is now taken into account by the board of education and they will do anything possible to get the swim team back.”

The back and forth didn’t stop there. Parents, students, and alumni wrote letters addressed to the Board of education. The letters were received and the only thing the team could do was wait until June when it could finally find out if Wantagh swimming would continue as a sports program.

Fortunately, the team was not entirely cut from the budget. It lost a huge part of its funding that led to the team struggling to survive. It only received two days a week in the pool at Eisenhower, the necessary assistant coaches jobs were eliminated, and no equipment was provided for the upcoming seasons. Currently, swimmers are fundraising for the last two weeks of the season where they do not have any pool time for Divisions and Counties practices. This is the first year in a long time where many girls on the team are participating in these meets and attendance for practice is necessary. They had a bake sale on September 22 and raised only enough money for two practices. Despite all of these issues, the girls’ swim team is off to an amazing, undefeated start.

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