Sandhills Sandsharks was chosen as one of 83 Make a Splash programs in the U.S. to receive grant money from the USA Swimming Foundation in early 2019.
The awarded money will go toward the Sandsharks’ continued efforts to provide free or reduced-cost swim lessons. The USA Swimming Foundation awarded a total of $502,461 to programs across the country that will provide swim lessons to an estimated 25,000 children.
Currently, the Sandsharks provide free lessons on Saturdays to Boys & Girls Club members who meet qualifications for the Make A Splash! Program.
This grant of $3750 will cover the costs of bringing over 40 more Boys & Girls Club members during the summer for lessons. The Sandsharks first partnered with the Boys and Girls Club in the summer of 2017 and are excited about the opportunity to expand the relationship.
“We are thrilled to be chosen for this grant,” Head Coach of Sandhills Sandsharks, Susanne Cooper, said. “The money we received will help us serve kids who otherwise may not have the chance to learn to swim. We hope some of our students will continue on to summer league, as well.”
Sandhills Sandsharks was founded in 1982 by Marsey Peterson, an ASCA Age Group Coach of the Year and mother of current SSS Board President Lindley Fleury.
Marsey moved to the Sandhills with her husband when he retired from the military. She realized the community lacked competitive swimming and access to swim lessons.
Over the ensuing decades, her efforts and those of the coaches who followed her yielded a growing, successful team and lessons program. Many SSS swimmers have gone on to National level competitions and received college scholarships.
In June of 2018, the Sandsharks moved to the Town of Southern Pines Pool, located near the Morganton soccer fields off Henley Street at the Pool Park.
The Town is leasing the pool to the Sandsharks during school months. The Sandsharks purchased and installed a dome over the pool, along with a pool heater, plus hot showers in the bath house to winterize it.
Sandsharks offers a Year Round USA Swim Team of 60+ swimmers, Saturday lessons, lap swimming, and Lifeguard training. The Sandsharks run the Moore County Swim League (summer league) and have hosted the North Carolina Swimming Open Water Championships, held at Lake Echo, Seven Lakes, for over 20 years.
The USA Swimming Foundation vetted 241 applications through a competitive annual review process and chose 83 Make a Splash Local Partner programs to receive funding, 26 of whom are first-time USA Swimming Foundation grant recipients.
“It’s an incredible feeling to know that USA Swimming Foundation funding will be used to create a valuable swimming experience for tens of thousands of children who may not have had the opportunity to learn how to swim,” USA Swimming Foundation Executive Director Debbie Hesse said. “We are thrilled with the depth of this year’s Make a Splash Local Partner applicant pool and we couldn’t be prouder to support these exciting and lifesaving opportunities for children across the country. We owe a tremendous thank you to our partners and donors, who continue to make a difference.”
To date, 7.5 million children have received the lifesaving gift of swim lessons through the USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash Local Partner network, comprised of 1,000 qualified lesson providers across the nation. To learn more, visit www.usaswimmingfoundation.org/makeasplash.
Courtesy photo/Sandhills Sandsharks