ROXBURY, NJ – Blue skies and sun? Check. 80-degrees and breezy? Check. Water temperature in the 70s? Check.
It was all-systems-go at Lake Hopatcong today for the Tiger Sharks’ first swim meet of the season. If anything signals the really official return of summer for the Tiger Sharks (the kids on the Shore Hills Swim Team) it’s the year’s first swim meet.
It marks the onset of hot fun on the waterfront as the 4- to 17-year-old swimmers take on similar lake-centered swim teams - including today’s competitors from Lake Shawnee - as part of the New Jersey Regional Lake League.
While Tiger Sharks Head Coach Kevin Pollison and Assistant Coach Tyler McDonald prepared for the meet, Viviana Morales-Burgess said the only thing lacking this year is enough kids in swimsuits. “We have 25 kids currently on the team,” said Morales-Burgess, a Landing resident who swam with the Tiger Sharks when she was younger. “We’ve gone down a lot. We used to have 74.”
So Morales-Burgess, whose 9-year-old son Frankie is a Tiger Shark, is on a recruitment mission. “We really need teenagers, but we’ll take anybody,” she said.
Joining the team costs $50 per family “and you have to be a member of the Shore Hills Country Club,” said Morales-Burgess. But she stressed that people shouldn’t be scared by the “country club” part. Membership costs $225 and is open to residents of the towns surrounding Lake Hopatcong. Tor that, she said, you get to become part of a close-knit community.
“We have a clubhouse where we have events like Breakfast with Santa, an Easter party and pig roasts,” said Morales-Burgess. “Each year, the swim team has bonfire … It’s a great community. We take good care of the lake and we take good care of our clubhouse.”
Morales-Burgess said her childhood was made special by the camaraderie associated with being a part of the Tiger Sharks and her adulthood wouldn’t be half as much fun if she wasn’t associated with the club, especially when summer comes.
“We see each other during Christmas parties and Halloween, but when summer hits that’s when everybody comes out of woodwork,” she said. “It becomes your summer family. If I have to run back to the house, other parents watch my kid. Everybody sort of watches out and takes care of each other here.”
Morales-Burgess said anybody interested in signing-up their kids for the swim team can send her an email.
“I grew up on Lake Hopatcong and I grew up swimming on the swim team,” she said. “I know how important it is and how amazing it is when the team is strong … My son has been on the team since he was five and he’s loved every minute of it.”