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JCC's Wahoos swim team splashes against hunger.

Byline: Jay Gearan

WORCESTER -- After a successful fall season in the Worcester County League, the Worcester Wahoos swim team recently celebrated its second-place finish with an recognition night and its annual Swim-a-Thon at the Jewish Community Center pool on Salisbury Street.

In the Swim-a-Thon, Wahoo swimmers, family and friends gathered to support Rachel's Table, a central food distribution service that helps feed the hungry. Its mission is to end hunger in Greater Worcester and reduce the waste of nourishing food.

Approximately 85 swimmers participated in the Swim-a-Thon fundraiser, garnering money pledges based on swim distances.

"I swam about 50 laps and raised $40,'' said Alex O'Connor of Holden.

Added Catherine Gardner, also of Holden, "I swam about 45 laps and swam for about 20 minutes straight.''

All participating swimmers gave up a weekday evening to help others.

Rachel's Table Director Carla Szymanski congratulated the team and presented the swimmers with Squash Hunger certificates, honoring those who contributed to the fight against hunger throughout Greater Worcester. In a letter to the team, Szymanski wrote, "There are so many people in need right now, and your generosity will truly make a difference.''

Team members Nicholas Spodick and Talia Hammond were the top fundraisers, collecting more than $600 through their long-distance efforts in the JCC Pool.

Said JCC Aquatics Director Kelly Sampson, "With the generosity of so many Wahoo team members, their family and friends, more people will receive assistance this year. We thank them for their support.''

After the Swim-a-Thon, several Wahoo swimmers were recognized for their achievements throughout the season. Fifty-two of the 102 team members qualified to compete in the championship meet, and 22 achieved All-Star status by placing in the top three in their events.

"Many swimmers set new personal best times, and we're proud of all the swimmers,'' said Wahoo head coach Kathy Spodick.

Cyrus Salmassi, 13, of Worcester and Zach Swidey, 10, of Holden were given High Points Awards for first-place finishes in the Worcester County Championship meet. Wahoo swimmers were recognized at the annual Worcester Country All-Star Banquet in late November held at Leicester Country Club.

The JCC Worcester Wahoos is a community swim team that competes in two leagues throughout the year. The team is dedicated to providing the opportunity for swimmers 6 through 18 to improve their skills and performance and to help foster a healthy attitude toward the sport and competition in general.

Coaches include Laine Parenteau, Laura Berg, Jochen Welsch, Josh Kent, Josh Feinstein, Hanna Durand and Ceci Mahan.

"We're planning on adding a summer season of meets next year,'' said Coach Spodick. "The unique aspect of this team is that it gives every member, regardless of ability, an opportunity to compete in a sport where the success of the team is truly measured by each swimmer's individual performance. We have swimmers from ages 6 through 18.''

For more information, contact JCC Aquatics Director Sampson at or call (508) 756-7109, ext. 235.
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Title Annotation:Weeklies
Author:Gearan, Jay
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 20, 2013
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