Team Spotlight: York Swim Club

By York Swim Club staff.

[Editor note].  PVS Swimming is one of the top LSC’s in the country, due in large part to the amazing swim clubs in our area.  At Reach For The Wall, we want to post a series of articles that highlights each of these teams and invite clubs to submit an article to us to give readers some insight into your organization.  Below is a submission from York Swim Club.

York offers programs ranging from a developmental swim school for 8 & under swimmers, to an elite senior national training group. We have many training options, ranging from 2 to 9.5 hours per week practice programs, with practices at four pool locations in Northern Virginia. We feature a team of coaches who are some of the most experienced in the local summer leagues and Potomac Valley Swimming. Based in Northern Virginia, we offer our swimmers an environment to help them achieve their personal goals.

YORK Swim Club was founded in 1981. Our goal was to provide a winter training program for local swimmers who wished to continue swimming during the school year. We believed that swimming was one of the very best ways to develop a healthy body and mind. The foundation of the Club centered around offering a positive, low-pressure environment that encouraged each swimmer and her/his academic life. Thirty-five years later, we continue that tradition today.

The special mix of coaches and parents is, of course, one important reason our club is unique and special. First, our parents work very closely with our staff and serve as willing volunteers, whether in representing the Club at area meets, or in organizing team activities. Second, coaches work hard to develop a good rapport between them and all the swimmers, even those not in their assigned workouts. Coaches are not merely limited to swimmers as athletes, but gets to know each one as a person. “How is school going?” and “Is the soccer or basketball team doing well?” are just a few of the questions regularly asked by our coaching staff. Our staff is honestly interested and it shows!

Our club is also special in the many activities offered to our young athletes beyond the pool deck. YORK swimmers have the opportunity to join their teammates for a variety of social activities, such as an Age Group bowling party; the Senior spaghetti dinner; an Age Group sock hop, with a D.J.; etc. In addition, YORK swimmers can take part in trips to team building events, away swim meets, and the Senior beach retreat.

The annual Senior Retreat is the team highlight for over one hundred 13 & over swimmers. Team events offer physical and entertainment challenges for swimmers to win “beads.” The competitions have evolved over the years but remains true to its main purpose: “To bring York Seniors from all practice groups together with the coaching staff for a weekend of companionship, enriched by frank discussions about topics that teens want and need to know.” YORK Swim Club is the only team in the country that offers such a unique experience for their swimmers. Bob and his staff are proud of the rich history of the Senior Retreat. Here is one of our graduating Seniors, Tara Hackett, reflecting on her experiences at Senior Retreat(s):

“Senior Retreat…the epitome of team bonding on York Swim Club. Senior Retreat isn’t just a weekend, it’s an entire experience. From the outside, it may be a bit puzzling. Because that’s right, there’s absolutely no swimming involved (unless you decide to take a dip in the bay, which, from personal experience, I do not recommend). Now, with no actual swimming involved, what could a swim club do for an entire weekend? Well, with all our days at Camp Arrowhead consisting of an action-packed schedule, there is always plenty to keep us busy.Each retreat begins with a stop at Rehoboth boardwalk. After a 3-hour bus ride, all of us are dying to get our hands on the renowned Grotto’s Pizza. We have about an hour of free time to roam the boardwalk, shop from store to store, and of course, take pictures upon pictures on the beach. Nearing the end of this hour, excitement begins to build, as we are all eager to get to camp and settle in.

Next, comes one of the most hectic times of the entire weekend. Instead of having assigned beds, it’s more or less a free for all, as we are released by age and go to whichever boys or girl cabin we can find a bed in. This year, I stayed in the Bitter Inn, and even with only two nights, there are so many new memories I have with the 14 other girls I was able to share it with. After getting settled in and having a bit of free time, the competitions really begin. First, we are divided into 4 separate teams, and compete for our choice of t-shirt color. Our first major team event is the Friday night scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt involves searching for items, answering club trivia questions, and recently has incorporated the use of twitter, as we live tweet the night with the hashtag #YorkSR. This year, at the end of the scavenger hunt, there was a tie between the blue and pink teams. As a tiebreaker, each team had to plank (on the concrete floor, I might add) and the first team with three people down was out. Blue came out on top, and was awarded the first beads of the weekend (because it’s all about the beads).

img_4130 After a good night’s rest and a filling breakfast prepared by our wonderful coaches, Saturday morning begins with team talks. Each year, there are 4 different sessions, 3 of which are topics chosen by the seniors to discuss with coaches in our individual teams, and the fourth being preparation for the Coaches’ Challenge. Every year, talks are one of my favorite parts of the weekend, because it gives us a time to discuss and reflect on important issues that impact many of our lives. This year, the 3 talks were cyberbullying, mental illness, and junior coaching. The theme for the Coaches’ Challenge was Saturday Night Fever, and each team prepared a group dance to one of the songs. As talks are completed, each team prepares for the main event of the weekend: Camp Olympics. Camp Olympics consists of a series of team events, always starting with scooter races and ending with canoeing, with activities such as knockout, dodge ball, and egg toss in between. Saturday night is filled with more competition through full-contact musical chairs- and I mean full contact. This means fighting over chairs – it can be brutal!, Saturday is wrapped up with animal sounds and the Coaches’ Challenge performances, before we head to the bonfire for annual story time with Bob, in which he tells numerous ghost tales and, of course, the infamous pumpkin story.Although everyone is happy to be at camp, Sunday always brings about feelings of slight sadness, as Sunday morning is when the seniors present their senior goodbyes. Here, seniors reflect on their time on York, share memories, and give much appreciated advice to the younger swimmers. With each new group of seniors, more and more emotion is displayed. The bonds we create at Camp Arrowhead run deep, and it seems each set of goodbyes becomes more difficult. Through the irreplaceable memories and lifelong friendships created on retreat, Camp Arrowhead has become a place where many swimmers feel at home. Retreat as a whole is more than just a retreat, it’s a place filled with laughter, friendship, and family. For one weekend each year, we all willing leave our typical daily lives and dedicate 3 days to not only each other, but to our coaches, and most importantly, to our York family.”York Swim Club has numerous seniors, many of whom began swimming as a 10& under with YORK.

This year we had 14 graduating seniors attend our annual retreat (described above). Of these swimmers, 4 will be swimming in college next year:

Bryn Edwards (Claremont McKenna College)

Collin Fiala (Virginia Tech)

Micaela Grassi (Villanova University)

Neal McElhattan (Old Dominion University)

Many thanks to York for your support of Reach For The Wall!  Want to see your club highlighted here?  Send us an email

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