Towpath Trail YMCA adds family relay to annual Swim-a-Thon

Towpath Trail YMCA adds family relay to annual Swim-a-Thon
Lori Feeney

The Towpath Trail YMCA in Navarre will hold its eighth annual Swim-a-Thon on Feb. 18 from 8 a.m. to noon. The event, which will include a family relay category for the first time, is the Y's largest fundraiser of the year.


The Towpath Trail YMCA in Navarre has added a new category to its annual Swim-a-Thon. For the first time, families are invited to form relay teams and compete in the event on Feb. 18 from 8 a.m. to noon.

“You may include as many family members as you like,” said Susan Scheetz, the aquatic education director.

This is the eighth year for the event, which is the largest fundraiser of the year for Towpath Trail YMCA, according to Scheetz.

“The money raised goes to support the upkeep of the pool,” Scheetz said. “We use it to buy equipment for swim lessons and the exercise fitness classes in the pool. The pool noodles, life jackets, weights and other items always need replaced.”

Scheetz said the pool is in need of lane lines, the ropes used to separate lanes. “They cost $1,500-$2,000 each, and we need three.”

How to participate

Swimmers who participate obtain pledges from family, friends, companies or organizations. Pledges can be per lap or just flat amounts. Each swimmer or family is assigned a lane. Everyone has 50 minutes to swim as many laps as they can.

“You don’t have to swim constantly for the full 50 minutes,” Scheetz said. “If you need to take a break, go to the bathroom or get something to drink, you can.”

Scheetz explained how the family relay works. “The first person swims until they’re done, then they tap out and another person takes over and so on.”

Family members may swim more than once if they desire.

Make a splash

Scheetz invites all swimmers to wear whatever they like to swim in and can choose to use fins.

“We had one come in a mermaid costume a couple years ago,” Scheetz said. “She said it was a real workout on her abs, just constantly doing the dolphin kick.”

Prizes are awarded in various categories, with grand prizes going to those with the most pledges and the most laps swam.

“Everyone gets a swag bag with goodies donated by local businesses,” Scheetz said. “And everyone gets a complimentary breakfast after they swim.”

How to participate

To enter the Swim-a-Thon, participants need to pick up a pledge sheet at the YMCA. “There are four lanes available and five time slots,” Scheetz said. “They have to come in so they can see which lanes are open and choose one and to choose a time slot.”

Time slots start at 8 a.m. and occur on the hour until noon. Time slots and lanes are first come, first served.

Open to everyone

The Swim-a-Thon is open to members and nonmembers and swimmers of all abilities.

“You’re just competing against yourself,” Scheetz said. “It’s just you in your lane, and you set your goal. So if you want to do 20 laps and you meet your goal, then you’re a winner. If you only want to swim one lap, then that’s it. You did it.”

Scheetz said the event is all for fun and not competitive. “People bring cheering sections. We play music and dance. It’s just a lot of fun.”

Volunteers also are welcome and needed. “If you don’t want to swim but you want to participate, you can keep track of laps,” Scheetz said. “We’ll give you a tally sheet and assign you a lane, and at the end of the 50 minutes, you just turn it in.”

Swim lesson

Swim lessons for children take place year round. “In 2022 we averaged 80 swimmers per session, and we have seven sessions,” Scheetz said. “We’re always looking for volunteers to help with the lesson. You don’t have to be a world-class swimmer to help either. You’re just standing in waist-deep water and helping a child learn.”

The Towpath Trail YMCA is located 1226 Market St. NE in Navarre. For more information on the Swim-a-Thon, swimming lessons or other activities, call 330-879-0800.

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