From Friday, January 18 through Sunday, January 21, 18 members of the South Shore YMCA Strypers Swim Team headed to College Park, Maryland to attend the annual SPY Winterfest Invitational Swim Meet. Hundreds of swimmers converged at the Eppley Recreation Center at the University of Maryland to spend their Saturday and Sunday swimming their hardest and cheering on their fellow team members.
Winterfest was held for the first time in 2000 and by 2013, SPY was hosting more than 1,700 swimmers from 46 different teams, hailing from Maine to Florida and as far away as Illinois.
“Swimming is a disciplined sport, said Bernie Dickman, Director of Competitive Swimming at the South Shore YMCA. “In order to succeed in all areas of your life and swim at this level and above, time management is a key skill. It’s important for children to belong to a team – to be part of something bigger than themselves yet still reach independent goals. The kids learn some independence and how to manage their own time. They have to depend on one another. When our kids win or break a personal record, their teammates get even more excited than they do. Success is much sweeter when shared with a team.”
Accompanying great team culture typically comes great results, and the Strypers are no exception to this adage. At the meet, team member Abby Toepfer broke a 16-year old team record in the 500-yard free and made her first short course national cut with a time of 5:05.77. Her brother, Nicholas Toepfer was the 15-18 100 backstroke meet champion, coming in first place with a time of 50.94. And their teammate Alex Yun not only was a meet champion in the 11-12 men’s age bracket for the 50 Breaststroke with a time of 28.85, but his 50-breast stroke time also set a YMCA National record as well.
The Strypers are a testament to hard work paying off, placing 6th out of 51 teams at Winterfest and their outlook shining bright for the remainder of their season.
“Team culture makes or breaks a team,” said Dickman. “Over the past three years, we have seen positive leaders emerge. Our culture is changing to one where the team comes first, one where we are a unit. They’re learning to hold each other accountable, and pushing each other to do better, and to be better. We are constantly working on choosing the better path to make us a better team overall.”
Coming up next for the South Shore YMCA Strypers Swim Team are the New England Swimming age group championships, YMCA New England Championships and YMCA Short Course Nationals.
“I am proud of how well the kids came together as a team at their most recent meet,” concluded Dickman. “They’re truly swimming together in the same direction now. I’m most looking forward to them improving on their already successful season. I can’t wait to see what happens at the end of the season when kids are fully rested and give it their all. No matter the outcome, though, they can stand tall knowing their efforts have not only helped them to develop as better swimmers over the past season, but also that they’ve contributed immensely to a positive team culture as well.”
About the South Shore YMCA
The South Shore YMCA is a not-for-profit association of individuals dedicated to improving the quality of life for all through programs that promote healthy spirit, mind, and body. Serving the communities of Quincy, Randolph, Holbrook, Weymouth, Braintree, Milton, Hingham, Hull, Cohasset, Scituate, Norwell, Hanover and beyond, the South Shore Y provides the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive through its services and programs. Financial Assistance is a Y community benefit available to all families in need, applicable to all Y programs and services. To learn more about the South Shore YMCA, visit www.ssymca.org. The South Shore YMCA. The Better You Belongs Here.