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SBC Sharks: Swimming, living, learning

Local swim team offers growing and learning lessons to area kids

    The Statesboro-Bulloch County Sharks swim team has a pretty basic goal - developing world-class citizens and world-class athletes. First-year coach Bill Sprague plans on fulfilling that mission by teaching and developing life skills through the Sharks, a local year-round team for swimmers ages six and up.

    Always looking for new members, the Sharks also aim to advance the sport of swimming, encourage positive mental attitudes and mutual respect and provide swimmers the opportunity to grow and succeed at their highest level.

    The team practices at Splash in the Boro and competes in meets across Georgia, northern Florida and South Carolina. The Sharks recently returned from Daytona Beach, Fla., and are preparing for their next competition in Brunswick in early July.

    “It’s a great sport, and we’d love to see more people out here,” Sprague said.

    Statesboro resident Brian Carter’s seven-year-old daughter, Harlie, is swimming for the Sharks for the first time this year. Carter said the program has helped build his daughter’s confidence and taught her about being a part of a team, physical exercise and nutrition.

    “It’s a great family sport and a way for her to meet friends,” Carter said. “It seems to be the perfect sport for her. She loves it.”

    Sprague is a 1988 graduate of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania where he swam competitively. He began his coaching career in Virginia and has directed numerous swim programs during his 17 years of coaching.

    “I have been privileged to work with athletes from the developmental level up to and including Olympians,” Sprague said. “The common thread throughout all of my work experience is my ability to work with and motivate athletes toward a common goal.”

    The Sharks were founded in the mid-1980s and at one point featured as many as 80 swimmers, however a high turnover of coaches resulted in a decline in membership. The team currently has 30 kids, and Sprague would love to see that number increase to around 200.

    Sprague is assisted by former Sharks and Georgia Southern swimmer Ali Lotta. She is a perfect example of an athlete who swam for a year-round program and was then able to swim at the college level. Sprague has experience in getting swimmers scholarships and hopes to bring this opportunity to the Sharks.

    The recreation department also sponsors the Junior Sharks, a feeder program for the Sharks open to swimmers ages six to 13.

    For more information on the Sharks, contact Coach Sprague at (843) 368-0402.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.

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