The Westport Y expected 70 kids at last week’s 2-day Water Rat swim team tryouts.
More than 150 showed up.
There are approximately 210 spots on the squad. With up to 170 swimmers returning from last season, that’s plenty of competition.
Head coach Ellen Johnston cites the Summer Olympics as contributing to the surge. She also points to the strength of the team, its history, and the coaching staff. Betsy Matheney was just named Connecticut Age Group Coach of the Year; Mark Sedlak won that honor in 2011.
The Y hopes to leverage the surge of interest with a new initiative. “Just Add Water Soon” — aka JAWS — aims to raise an additional $1.5 million by October 29 to expand the planned 25-yard lap pool at the new Mahackeno facility by 2 lanes (to 10).
JAWS would also widen the warm-water family/teaching pool by 7 feet.
October 29 is the date the Y boards are expected to sign off on the final design documents for Mahackeno.
The Y is 90% on its way to closing its gap of $3 million. That would fully fund the new Y, as planned.
Critics have claimed that the swim program — specifically, the Water Rat team — has been a driving force behind the Y’s move to Mahackeno.
Now, the Y is using a spike in swim interest to add extra lanes and new features. They want to prove that all members — from pre-swimmers to seniors in Aqua Fitness class — will benefit.