By John Burton
SEA BRIGHT – Another effect from Sandy will be fewer meets and fewer swim teams for the area beach clubs this summer.
Long a tradition for the clubs and members, the swim teams meet and compete against one another every July. However, when the October storm caused considerable damage to many of the clubs – two are still in the repair stage – it left some unable to accommodate members and the teams.
Robin Levin, president of the North Shore Swim League, which oversees the teams, said this year’s season will be reduced to six meets, instead of the usual eight, as the Sands and Ship Ahoy beach clubs continue being repaired and are not sponsoring teams this year.
“It is disappointing to a lot of families,” that they won’t have their usual beach clubs this summer and kids won’t be able to be part of the teams, Levin said.
The clubs participating this year are: Surfrider, Chapel, Sea Bright Beach Club, Monmouth Beach Bath and Tennis Club, Monmouth Beach Pavilion and Seashore Day Camp, in Long Branch, according to Levin.
The North Shore Swim League dates back to the 1950s. Each team can have more than 100 members, with around 1,000 swimmers total involved for the July season, Levin said.
Team members have to be club members and age 6 to 17, according to league rules.
There was talk earlier this year among league board members about trying to figure a way to have the Sands and Ship Ahoy teams participate to enable those swimmers to be involved. “Some clubs have reached out,” Levin said, “but logistically it would be too tough.”
However, there is still talk about doing something for the 17-year-olds this year – because it would have been their last year to participate – but that is still being discussed.
The league offers boys and girls – active competitive swimmers and others – a chance to join in the organized events. “We do it for the fun of it,” is the league’s motto, Levin said. “There are kids who swim year-round and kids who swim seasonally and that’s the great thing about. They do blend together well.
“It’s to have an enjoyable time and make friends,” she said.
That is certainly why Laura and Kate Neff have been part of the Sea Bright Beach Club for a number of years. The girls are 13-year-old twins who live in Little Silver.
“I really love to swim,” said Laura, who swims throughout the year. Along with her love of swimming, “I like it because I get to spend a lot of time with people I really don’t see through out the year,” like club members who don’t necessary live or go to school in the immediate area.
While Laura has been a team member for five years, Kate has been doing it for a couple of years. “I’m not at the same level as her,” Kate said, referring to Laura. But, “I enjoy it a lot. It’s very fun.”
“I’m a little disappointed there aren’t as many teams this year,” Kate said.
“A lot of my friends from school go to Sands Beach Club and they’re all pretty upset about not have a swim team this year,” Laura added.
Not to worry, Levin said. “Everything will be back next summer with a boom.”