2017 Gators swim teams compete with spirit, vigor

Posted on: July 17, 2017

A strong finish and the planned introduction of  a couple of new post-season programs marked the summer of 2017 for the Glen Ellyn Park District Gators Swim Team.

“We won the B conference championship meet,” said Nancy Denenberg, head coach.

The A conference finished in second place.

The teams are composed of swimmers ages 7 through 18 who attend weekday practices at Sunset Pool and participate in seven dual meets, competing against other area park district teams and culminating with the mid-July championship meet.  The teams belong to the West Suburban Swim Conference and were undefeated this summer in all of their dual meets. Half the meets are held at Sunset Pool; the other half are held at other teams’ facilities.

The Gators are split into two teams; A (more competitive) and B (less experienced). Both championship were held in Lemont, with the Gators acting as host for the B conference.

Denenberg said that while it’s nice to win, winning isn’t the sole focus for the Gators.

“It’s not about winning. It’s about kids having fun, making friends and the love of swimming. It’s about sportsmanship,” she said. “The whole program is so much fun. The kids love it.”

Denenberg said the program has been growing in popularity.

“In the past year, we’re up 20 percent. We have 350 kids. There are 290 kids in the Gators program and another 60 in the Junior Gators program,” she said. “I believe we have the biggest swim team in our Conference.”

Junior Gators, ages 5 to 6, also practice regularly but do not compete in dual meets. They do have an end-of-season contest wherein they compete against each other.

Denenberg said this year, for the first time, the practice sessions carried special themes. For example, she said, Gators observed Thankful Thursdays.

“On Thursdays, we encouraged every Gator to think about who they are thankful for and asked them to do something special to thank that person,” she said.

On Fun Fridays, she said, coaches and swim team members do fun activities in the pool, so the practice session is not just about doing laps.

At the mid-July recognition night, shortly after the championship meet, Gators who displayed good sportsmanship and team spirit were recognized with Green Goggle awards.

“It’s to recognize kids that display all the values of an excellent Gators team member,” Denenberg said. “All the kids vote for one person in each of the groups.”

Denenberg said award winners were each given a pair of green goggles. The Gators team color is green.

Swimmers who reflected similar values were recognized weekly throughout the season with Gator Pride awards. Pride award winners were selected by coaches.

Denenberg said the Gators program coaching staff includes four coaches, in addition to her. Two are currently attending college, one recently graduated from college and a fourth will be a junior at Glenbard West High School this fall. All are elite swimmers with at least ten years of intense swim experience.

For swimmers who want to take advantage of the remaining summer weather, the Gators will begin two new programs that run from July 24 through August 10.

Denenberg said there also will be a new Junior Gators session that will include practice sessions. The session is open to both Junior Gator team members and swimmers who did not participate in the Gators earlier this summer. She said the program is already nearly full.

There also will be a Post-Season Conditioning Gators session.

Both sessions will meet Mondays through Thursdays at Sunset Pool.

Gators A Conference Video