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Shark-a-thon Takes a Bite Out of Expenses

There were sharks in the pool at Fort Belvoir last weekend. They didn't pose any danger, however, as they were members of Fort Belvoir Swim Team, Inc. Shark School. Approximately 60 members swam in Shark-a-thon 2004. The goal was to raise at least $12,000 for the ongoing support and maintenance of the team.

Swim coach Duane Davis told the team that if they raised that minimum goal that he would swim the same 200 lengths that his team members swam.

According to Janet Moffitt, who coordinated the event, the team far surpassed that initial goal.

"It was a lot of fun for the swimmers as they met the challenge to swim continuously for two hours or 200 lengths. Many were somewhat surprised yet very proud that they could swim so many lengths. Sixty-six FBST swimmers and coaches participated in Shark-a-Thon 2004.

"The event was quite successful. We have raised $20,148 as of this morning. We surpassed our goal by over $8,000. The swimmers raised three-quarters of that amount. Corporate sponsorships from 25 local businesses totaled nearly $5,000," said Moffitt.

Parents kept logs as Davis and his swimmers swam for two continuous hours or up to 200 lengths during the Shark-a-Thon. Two hundred lengths of the 25-yard indoor pool equals 5,000 yards or nearly three miles of swimming.

FBST's Shark-a-Thon 2004 was sponsored by L.A. Systems, Inc., the Sallie Mae Fund, Wick's Sports Lettering, Acuity Consulting, Inc., Mary and Tim Doyle, Fort Belvoir Federal Credit Union, Greenmount Moving & Storage, Hilltop Golf Club, the Law Offices of Christopher S. Moffitt, Northern Virginia Internal Medicine Associates, Pohanka Acura, Chevrolet, Lexus; AntiquesWorth, Sue Dickerson of Weichert Realtors, Hollin Hall Automotive Service Station, Hughes Orthodontics, the Law Offices of Carroll Hauptle, Mr. Kleen Car Wash, Paul Pfaff Enterprises, Tom Pleimling Realty, Advanced Contracting, Inc., Burke & Herbert Bank, Roseina's, and Dr. Jeffrey D. Weaver.

FOUNDED IN 1975, the Fort Belvoir Swim Team is an independent, non-profit organization serving youth from civilian and military families in Alexandria, Mount Vernon, and southeastern Fairfax County. The 115-member team is directed by Head Coach Duane Davis and his staff of seven assistant coaches. FBST practices are held at Benyaurd Indoor Pool and at the Lee District, Mount Vernon, and GW Rec centers. Davis returned to the team from North Carolina, where he worked for the past five years; prior to that he had served as assistant coach for FBST.

FBST has just completed a successful season. They finished the USA-Swimming winter short course season competing in Potomac Valley Swimming (PVS) championship meets each weekend during March. FBST swimmers ages six to eighteen received a number of top place finishes, lifetime individual best times, and other achievements.

In the Speedo Championship Series Senior Sectional Meet, senior swimmers Emily Verdin, 18, and Colleen Sullivan, 17, led the team by qualifying for the Eastern Zone II Senior Sectional Swimming Championship held March 25-28 at the University of Maryland. Sixty-five teams from Virginia to Canada participated in the meet. Sullivan competed in the 50 freestyle, while Verdin competed in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events. Verdin's third place finish in the 100 yard backstroke qualified her for the Conoco-Phillips National Swimming Championships scheduled for August 3-7, in Palo Alto, Calif.

Verdin and Sullivan have been members of FBST since they were in elementary school and each holds FBST team records in nearly every age group. Their commitment to swimming, perseverance, and success has been inspirational to many of their teammates. Both swimmers plan to continue swimming at the collegiate level. Verdin is a senior at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and plans to attend the University of California at Berkeley in the fall. Sullivan is a senior at Bishop Ireton High School and has not decided yet which college to attend.

Davis said that he will miss those two swimmers, as well as the four other graduating seniors, Lauren Trinka, Sam Leake, Austin Cobb and Hugh McGirk.

"I knew her [Emily Verdin] from before. She's a great role model and does everything the way you're supposed to; always getting to practice," said Davis.

About Sullivan, Davis said, "She's done very well."

WHILE VERDIN AND SULLIVAN were representing FBST in Maryland, 27 FBST athletes were competing across the river at the March Madness Meet at George Mason University Pool. This meet had separate sessions for the 8 & unders, 9-10, 11-12, and 13 & over age groups.

For the 11 and older swimmers the meet was swum with preliminaries in the early morning hours and finals in the evening for the top 16 swimmers in each event. Ten of FBST's older swimmers swam in the finals, including: Dan Chalfant, Jack Collins, Alex Dona, Brendan Doyle, Ali Johnson, Taylor Murrin, Frank Olechnowicz and Elisabeth Sweet.

Brendan Doyle led the 11-12 boys with top 8 finishes in the 50 yard butterfly, 200 yard Individual Medley, 50 yard freestyle, 100 yard backstroke, and 100 yard breaststroke. Taylor Murrin, 12, placed third in the 100 yard breaststroke and sixth in the 50 yard breaststroke while teammates Elisabeth Sweet, 12, and Ali Johnson, 11, placed sixth and seventh, respectively, in the grueling 200 yard butterfly race and achieved new personal best times.

Fourteen-year-old Jack Collins captured first place in the 100 yard butterfly and sixth in the 200 yard freestyle while Frank Olechnowicz, also 14, had top eight finishes in the 200 yard breaststroke, 200 yard Individual Medley, and 200 yard backstroke.

AT THE 10 & UNDER sessions, FBST was represented by Leah Buchman, Kelly Corridon, Jinhee Lee and Celeste Zabowski, who teamed up to swim in the 200 Medley Relay event. Top finishers among the girls included Reanna Dona, 9, who placed second in the 500 yard freestyle, third in the 200 yard freestyle, fifth in the 50 yard breaststroke and sixth in the 100 yard breaststroke; Emily Hauptle, 10, who came in fourth in the 100 yard breaststroke, ninth in the 500 yard freestyle, and tenth in the 200 yard Individual Medley; Jinhee Lee, 9, who placed seventh in the 500 yard freestyle; and Hellen Moffitt, 8, who was the 8 & under high point scorer at the meet and placed first in the 25 yard backstroke, 25 yard butterfly, and 50 yard freestyle, third in the 10 & under 100 yard backstroke and sixth in the 10 & under 100 yard freestyle.

During the boys' sessions 11-year-old Ryan Swan dropped three seconds on his 100 yard freestyle time to place twelfth overall and Michael Ryan Clark, 9, came in thirteenth in the 50 yard butterfly. Springfield resident David Gemma, 8, swam to a second place finish in the 25 yard freestyle and took third place in the 25 yard breaststroke during the 8 & under boysí session. FBST coaches Lisa Dunnivan, Pete Konrad, Chris Marquart, and Kathleen Winston were all pleased with how well the age group swimmers performed throughout the meet.

For more information about the Fort Belvoir Swim Team or the Shark-a-Thon visit FBST's website at www.fbswim.org or contact Head Coach Duane Davis at 703-924-2551 or by email at ddavis@fbswim.org.