Sharks celebrate banner year

YMCA Sharks swim Coach Jim Willis was named Coach of the Year for the second year running. PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

YMCA Sharks swim Coach Jim Willis was named Coach of the Year for the second year running.

BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island High School cafeteria was packed last Thursday night with members of the YMCA Sharks swim team and families celebrating a very successful winter season.

“The Sharks continue to be one of the best teams in the state,” Coach Jim Willis said. “We finished third at both the YMCA State Meet and at the Maine Winter Junior Olympics. This was the Sharks’ highest place at the JO’s since 1991.”

Willis was named coach of the year by his fellow swim coaches in Maine for the second year running. “We have kids who rank and compete at a national level, lots of state records being broken, a local team that consistently places high within the state and kids from all over the island who join together to make it successful,” Shark parent Tabatha Sullivan told the Islander. “So much of that is thanks to the coaching.”

Willis has been coaching in Maine for more than 30 years, interrupted by three years in the U.S. Virgin Islands when he was a coach for the 2000 Olympics. “We have parents on this team that he coached at the Canoe City Swim Club (Old Town-Orono YMCA) 20 years ago,” MDI YMCA Executive Director Alan Mogridge said. “We’ve only had two coaches in all 44 years of the Sharks, Lenny DeMuro and Jim. It’s really quite a legacy, and one we’re very proud of. Our community is so lucky to have him at the head of the Sharks team.”

Liam Sullivan, Lydia DaCorte and Leila Johnston set several state records. All three also participated at YMCA Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. They each recorded ‘AAAA’ times in at least one event, in the top two percent for their age groups in the country.

Addy Smith and Sam Mitchell represented the Maine All-Star team at the Eastern Zone meet in Webster, N.Y, and four Sharks (Finley Smith, Caden Braun and brothers Sam and Jacob Mitchell) attended the YMCA New Englands at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.

At the banquet, new team record holders were recognized as well as outstanding and most improved swimmers in each age group. Awards went to those who gathered the most pledges or raised the most money for the program in the Aquathon fundraising event, and Lydia DaCorte was the recipient of this year’s Coach’s Award.

Practices for the Sharks spring season begin April 27, and for the summer season, June 22. The YMCA also hosts the Lenny DeMuro Swim Camp from July 6-10 and the Sharks Water Sports Camp from Aug. 10-14.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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