It's a splash! Swimming for Soldiers Swim-A-Thon a grand success


The highly anticipated Swimming for Soldiers Swim-A-Thon filled Maxcy Hall Pool with a festive spirit Saturday as SUNY Potsdam athletes joined together to boost local members of the military.

The non-competitive swimming event raised approximately $2,000, had all SUNY Potsdam athletic teams in participation with 170 student-athletes and reached full capacity in the stands.

The goal of $1,500 was easily surpassed and the event showed all indications that it was a large success.

"I don't think it could have gone any better," said Potsdam assistant swimming coach Brittany Berrus. "There was representation from every team.  The stands were full.  We still have money coming in.  The athletes were having a ball.  Who doesn't love a big, pool party?"

Community service was in scope from the beginning of the swim season as coach Berrus and others wanted to dig their heels in and get behind a cause.

"Last year, we didn't do any community service," said coach Berrus.  "So this year, I said that we had to do something.  [Diving coach] Meaghan [Cunningham] and I were talking about what we could do and it really started to come together during our Puerto Rico training trip in January.  From there, we got the ALC involved and Daniel [Costa] and Emily [Kanoza] got behind it."

All teams split into two groups and swam for 20 minutes apiece.  The top 10 athletes who raised the most through pledges were given t-shirts with camouflage paw prints on the back of the shirt.

All proceeds went to the SUNY Potsdam Operation Military Support (OMS) Group, who create care packages for soldiers overseas.

Within the care package may include practical items such as hygiene products, magazines, non-perishable foods like beef jerky and other keepsakes that would remind soldiers of home.

The last care package was set to South Korea.  The packages are specifically targeted for those military personnel who attended Potsdam-area schools or those who had a connection to the area.

The money raised equaled a length of time that athletes swam in relay style with their teams. The criteria used was $500 to swim for 20 minutes, $1,000 to swim for 40 minutes or $1,500 to swim for an hour.

Hoping to spawn a next group of leaders, Costa and Kanoza are thinking this could potentially turn into a tradition for the swim team to get behind the SUNY Potsdam Operation Military Support Group.

"We're trying to test the waters with it being the first year being done," Kanoza said.  "I feel like if the team can continue this for years to come, it could be a great event and a lot of people will want to become a part of it." 

Through the ALC, events such as an end-of-the-year banquet for its student-athletes and community service such as raking leaves for area residents have strengthened relations between SUNY Potsdam athletic teams.

Costa and Kanoza felt the Swim-A-Thon would be an excellent way to bolster Potsdam school spirit and unity together in one place under one roof.