So why would you do it?
Darren Murphy, Head Swimming Coach for Good Sheppard in Marine Park Brooklyn, had an answer.
“I enjoy doing it for the kids,” Murphy said.
Murphy was not alone. Nearly every single person involved in helping pull off the CYO boys swimming championships, held this past Sunday at the Aquatic Center in Nassau County, was doing so of their own free will. All coaches and assistants were volunteers.
“It’s one of the biggest volunteer efforts in the entire Diocese,” said Vincent Hawkins, the Director of the Swimming Program.
It has to be. Swimming teams are some of the largest teams in sports, easily putting football to shame. The average swimming team has around 70-80 swimmers, with the excellent teams fielding 100. And with 14 teams between two divisions competing, over 1000 swimmers hit the water Sunday.
And that’s just the swimmers, to say nothing of the parents, brothers, and sisters cheering in the stands.
“The hardest thing is keeping everyone organized,” said Murphy, who started coaching when his daughter was seven years old in the swim program.
His daughter is now in his twenties, and Murphy is still coaching.
Shawn Slevin, Head Coach for St. Sebastian, agreed.
“It takes a village to do all that we do,” she said.
So what goes into getting a swim team ready for this event?
Well, first there are the swim clinics that start in September, when coaches look for new members of the team.
Once they find new swimmers, there is practice two times a week. The practice can be draining for new swimmers.
“It gets tiring at first,” said Ian Binder, one of the swimmers that competed in meet Sunday, “but you kinda get used to it after a while.”
If practices are tiring to the players, getting ready for them is maddening for coaches. Each team must find a swimming pool to practice in twice a week, not an easy feat in New York City.
Good Sheppard practices at Madison High School, and Murphy estimates that they pay around 20 thousand dollars a year to rent the pool for the boy’s and girl’s practices.
St. Sebastian is fortunate to have their own pool, but Slevin wouldn’t say that their lives are incredibly easier.
“We still have to fight for time in our own pool.” She said.
Pool fees have been a thorn in the side of the CYO. Hawkins estimates that between dealing with non-always-understanding public schools, and renting out the Aquatic Center, the CYO and teams spend up to one hundred thousand dollars each year. They try to offset some of the costs with fundraising and fees from registration and attendance.
However expensive, everyone at CYO believes swimming is a sport worth teaching to young people.
“Swimming teaches children self-discipline, self motivation, and focus,” Slevin said.
That focus was on display Sunday. Upon entering the cavernous Aquatic Center, built for the 1998 Goodwill games, many coaches reported swimmers getting nervous.
“The first timers are probably scared to death,” Murphy said.
Dan Gresser, another swimmer, agreed.
“When you’re up there you get butterflies, but once you swim you’re ok.”
Binder added; “Once you hit the water, you just focus.”
Focus. Self Discipline. They go hand-in-hand with swimming, and the CYO will make sure that they always do.
1 S.T.O.R.M. (Blessed Trinity/Resurrection)
2 Sacred Heart-Bayside
3 O.L.A.N. (Olph-St Andrew The Apostle)
4 St Patrick-St Ephrem
5 L.I.A.M. (Our Lady Of Lourdes/Incarnation/American Martyrs)
6 Our Lady Of The Snows
1 St Sebastian
2 Good Shepherd
3 St Francis De Sales
4 Tri-M (Our Lady Of Mercy/Olqm)
5 Kevan (St Kevin/St Anastasia)
6 St Anselm-Our Lady Of Angels
7 St Gregory