BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island YMCA Sharks Swim Team is looking for new swimmers to help the team continue its reign as one of the best teams in Maine.
Practices began on Oct. 23. The Sharks were founded in 1971 and have been practicing and competing at meets ever since, even when the YMCA had no pool in the mid-1990s. Over the years, the team has won numerous state titles and even a couple of New England Championships. For the third year in a row, the Sharks placed third at the Maine Swimming Junior Olympics held in March at Bowdoin College.
The team practices and competes at the Lenny DeMuro Swimming Pool at the MDI YMCA in Bar Harbor.
Children from all of the communities on Mount Desert Island ranging in age from 6-18 years participate on the team. Some are just learning to be competitive swimmers, while others are nationally ranked competitors.
Four separate practice groups allow individuals a chance to develop and improve their skills in the pool.
The Green team, for newer and younger competitive swimmers, practices on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4:15-5:15 p.m. The Gold team, swimmers with some experience from ages 9-14, practices on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5-6:30 p.m. and on Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m.
The Senior team practices from 2:45-4:15 p.m. when the high school is not competing. This group team includes many members of the MDI High School team.
Coaches are flexible with the number of practices swimmers attend each week, since many swimmers also are involved with other sports and extra-curricular activities.
The WeeSharks is for children ages 6-9 who are new to the sport. Swimmers will practice on Tuesday and Thursdays from 4:15-5 p.m. A new seven-week session for the WeeSharks will begin on Nov. 7.
Any child who can swim the freestyle and backstroke the length of the YMCA pool (25 yards) is welcome to try the swim team. New team members can practice with the team for a week before making a commitment. Since the swim team does not cut anyone, “practice week” is really a try-out process to see if the child wants join the team. Most new Sharks participate in the swim meets when they and the coaches feel that they are ready to compete against themselves and other swimmers. Meets are usually held on Saturdays.
This year, the team will have four home meets and will travel to Belfast, Augusta and Old Town for away meets before the State Championship meet at the University of Maine in early March.
Jim Willis, head coach of the Sharks, is entering his 33rd year of coaching. He was the Virgin Island Olympic Coach in 2000 and the Maine Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2015. He also is a former YMCA swimmer and letterman on the Maine Black Bears team.
Tony DeMuro is the head assistant coach. As coach of the MDI High School team, he was the Maine Class B Coach of the Year in 2002. His boys’ team won State Championships from 2004-2009, and the girls’ team won the State Championship in 2013 and 2014. DeMuro still holds a few team records from his days as a Shark swimmer.