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GODFREY – The wave of success splashes on for the Summers-Port swim team. The Sharks are heading to deep water in search of another banner season.
So far, so good. Summers-Port, which defeated the Paddlers of Granite City in a dual meet here Tuesday, are 4-0 in Southwestern Illinois Swim Association competition. They also won the SWISA Relays last month at Sunset Hills in Edwardsville.
The Sharks will be aiming for their 22nd consecutive SWISA championship July 20, when they play host to the league swim competition. However, 10th-year coach Nancy Miller is taking nothing for granted.
“I don’t count my chickens before they are hatched,” Miller said. “Water Works of Edwardsville and the Paddlers have excellent teams, so we have our work cut out for us.”
And the Sharks don’t mind working. It’s a way of life for them in building an impressive swim resume the past two decades. They also will go for the SWISA diving championships on July 19 in Granite City.
“I like swimming here,” 10-year-old Anna Moehn said of Summers-Port, “because everyone supports one another. Even though we are different ages, we are like a family.”
Grace Hopkins, 18 and a recent Alton High graduate, has been competing for the Sharks the last 10 years. It’s a big part of her life.
“I started out as a young swimmer and it has been great being able to spend all this time with my friends,” she said. “Everybody has a good work ethic and pulls their weight.”
Matthew Daniel, 13 and a freshman-to-be at Alton High, is pulling some remarkable feats for the Sharks, Miller said. He’s frequently setting records.
“He has a good work ethic, is so versatile and a joy to watch,” Miller said.
Daniel recently competed in meets at St. Louis and Quincy. Along the way, he established five records swimming in nine events.
Daniel added, “I’ve been pretty consistent all year.”
As for the team’s string of success, Daniel said, “Most of it is because of Nancy. She’s a great coach with a great attitude. She sets the tone for us.”
Miller points to tradition and a pointed work ethic in stirring the Sharks’ winning ways. The Greenwood Lane gang has a strong support group.
“It’s always important to get the new faces going,” Miller said of the talent that covers all age groups. “That’s wonderful.”
It’s a grass-roots campaign that spurs the Sharks. River Bend families have long and devoted ties to the team.
“Loyalty is one of the biggest things we have going,” Miller said. “The kids know the tradition of the team and they also know each other. It’s a very cohesive group.”
Miller added, “We have a lot of new kids this year and that’s exciting.”
With the Sharks showcasing more than 100 swimmers, you can see why Miller is enthused about their progress. The possibilities seem limitless.
The Sharks have dominated the area scene since the early 1990s, when SWISA had seven teams. Now there are five, but little has changed. Besides the two teams in Edwardsville and one in Granite City, there’s one – Splash City – in Collinsville.
Daniel, Moehn, Hopkins, Caden Akal, Ellen Higdon, Edward Roberts, Jenna Fleming, Cole Akal, Claire Paul, Noah Clancy, Madeline Stobbs, Jake Roth, Abagail Powers, and Eleni Kotzmanis have been among the leaders thus far for the Sharks.
Yet, as Miller says, it’s a team effort. And no squad has matched Summers-Port’s depth for years. The Sharks wear it as a badge of pride.
“They want to keep it (winning) going,” she said.