PARKERSBURG - On Feb. 3, the Parkersburg Sharks YMCA Swim Team will be hosting its annual swim-a-thon fundraiser.
During the fundraiser from 3:45-7 p.m. at the Parkersburg YMCA swimming pool, each swimmer has a goal of swimming 200 laps in a two-hour timespan - the equivalent of 5,000 yards or just over three miles.
Each swimmer seeks sponsors to fund his or her individual swim.
The swimming fundraiser is designed to raise money to purchase a new set of competition lane lines for the swimming pool.
This is the 45th year the swim team has been active, with swimmers from both Parkersburg High and Parkersburg South High schools competing for the YMCA Sharks, said Sarah Nisewarner, head swim coach.
"Many of our swimmers will be qualifying for the High School State Meet at WVU as well as the YMCA regional zone meet at Ohio State University," said Nisewarner. "A couple will qualify for YMCA Nationals in Greensboro, N.C."
There are more than 100 registered swimmers on the team, most of whom are under the age of 13, said Nisewarner, a science techer at Williamstown High School.
Nisewarner is a 2003 graduate of Parkersburg High School, and is a former swimmer with the YMCA Sharks and at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She has been coaching the Sharks for three years, one year as head swim coach.
The winter season for the Parkersburg YMCA Sharks runs from September through April. In the summer they train from June through August.
If the swimmers choose to participate in both seasons it is approximately 10-months long.
The younger swimmers have practice five days a week for up to an hour and 15 minutes a day, said Nisewarner.
The senior swimmers have practice five days a week for an hour and a half, along with a two hour and a half morning practice, or an average of 8-9 hours a week of swimming.
Both the younger and senior swimmers have an available dry land program of light strength training and stretching. Several of the senior swimmers also have chosen to attend private trainers outside of the Sharks program, Nisewarner said.
The age of Sharks swimmers ranges from 6 to 18 years old.
On days when school is canceled or over holiday breaks (Christmas and Thanksgiving) the senior swimmers participate in double practices. On a double practice day they may swim up to 10,000 yards, or more than six miles, she said.
The swim meets are held on weekends. The largest meets can be three or four days long and often require time spent out of school, such as the state, zone and national, said Nisewarner.
The high school swimmers may have a meet every weekend or multiple meets in a week during some months because they are competing on two teams, she said.
Many of the swimmers of all ages compete in other sports, she said.
The majority of the YMCA swimmers compete with the city summer league swim clubs, such as North Hills, Parkersburg Country Club and Jackson Park in Vienna, Nisewarner said.