School Board okays MS swim team

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Through an agreement with the Switzerland County YMCA, the school board here on Monday night approved the creation of a swim team at Switzerland County Middle School.

The team will begin competing this winter.

Eric Cole of the Switzerland County YMCA told the school board that he had met with middle school athletic director John Druba and high school athletic director David Todd, and both approved of the plan.

Eric Cole noted that students may currently swim as part of the YMCA’s “Sharks” competitive swimming team; but said that as students move into middle school, representing their school becomes very important.

“The kids like to have that name ‘Pacers’ across the front of their uniform,” Eric Cole said. “We think we do our best programming for kindergarten through fifth grade; and then act as a feeder program for the middle school, and then the high school. It’s what we do now with the basketball program.”

Eric Cole said that the cost of using the YMCA pool for home meets is already covered as a part of the school’s agreement with the YMCA; so the only costs to the school corporation would be transportation costs. He said that the athletic directors said that purchasing uniforms and other equipment could be done through athletic department funds.

He also said that other schools in the area that already have middle school swim teams are very receptive to the establishment of a team in Switzerland County, and many have already said that the new Pacer team could have meets scheduled and participate in invitationals.

“What we need to be very clear on is that this is a school team, and it’s your program,” Eric Cole told the board. “This won’t be a YMCA team, it will be a school team. We are going to provide the facility, but it’s your team.”

Middle school principal Nancy Stearns said that she has no extra curricular funds available to pay a coach; and school board member Wayne Daugherty noted that the position was not currently a part of the ECA portion of the master contract with the teachers association, so that would have to be worked out.

Superintendent Elizabeth Jones said that contract negotiations are currently ongoing with representatives of the teachers union; but board member Duane Cole said that something would have to be done now.

“If you’re talking about having a team this winter, then the negotiations that are going on right now don’t help with this,” Duane Cole said. “It can be included for next year, but if you want to have a coach this year, then we need to discuss this with the teachers association and see if we can work something out.”