MAPLEWOOD, NJ - For the Maplewood Makos swim team, which is made-up of 140 Maplewood Pool members between the ages of 5 and 18, this summer was about swimming, but also about sportsmanship and fun, as well as giving back to the community.
The Maplewood Makos compete in the North Jersey Summer Swim League, swimming against teams like Springfield, Berkley Heights, Morris Township and South Orange.
This summer, the Makos finished with a 5-3 record, four record-breaking swims, tons of personal best times, and a few Meet of Champion winners, according to a press release from the Maplewood Recreation Department.
The Makos also gave back to the community in several ways, inclucing collecting 1,538 pounds of food in the league's "Swim for Food" program, in which swimmers collected food for local food pantries in competition with other teams within the league, stated the Maplewood Recreation Department press release.
The Makos also participated in the swim-a-thon, an annual event where money is raised to support a local cause. Robin Peacock, Executive Director of MEND visited the pool with her "Green Bean" -- MEND's food pantry on wheels -- which is typically stuffed with fresh produce to be delivered to local pantries. Peacock spoke to the kids about food insecurity in the area, and the need for fresh produce in food pantries. "The Makos were so inspired by the work of MEND, that they raised $6,130.90 to support the cause.
"The season this year was simply amazing. The Makos learned to swim for more than themselves, prided themselves on teamwork and being regarded as having 'the best sportsmanship in our division,'" stated Jane Ehlers, head coach of the Maplewood Makos Swim Team.
Ehlers also said that the swimmers even made a banner for the Springfield coach who was celebrating 20 years of coaching, and in addition to giving back,"they did not slack in the pool either, with two meets being decided by a one point differential.
"The Makos learned the value of every swim, and worked hard each morning to get stronger and swim faster. They learned how swimming their fastest affects their team mates and themselves! We had our largest team ever this season, but we also had the most growth in each and every little swimmer, both in the pool and out!" said Ehlers.
The Makos celebrated their season end with a party at the pool and trophies and awards followed at the DeHart Community Center.
“The unity on the team is remarkable. Attending Makos meets always makes me smile, as the swimmers of all ages cheer each other in to their individual finishes. I give the parents so much credit for getting the kids up early in the morning and into the pool, and thank them as well as our passionate coaching staff led by the magic of Jane Ehlers. We had a huge team this year and with their strong swimming and charity work, we are proud of our Makos and look forward to next year,” shared Melissa Mancuso, Maplewood’s Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs.