It’s a family affair in the sizzling Texas summers, from crazy hair and tattoos to creating a life-long love of swimming for their kids. Gillian Burns and Jenni Evans, co-Presidents of the Barton Creek Sharks in Austin, Texas contributed this peek into what it means to be a Shark.
The Barton Creek Sharks swim team is one of 10 summer clubs in the Austin Hills Swim League, situated in the rolling hill country of Southwest Austin, Texas. The Sharks are 140 swimmers strong and have been creating “fun loving wicked swimmers” since 1991. SwimTopia asked Gillian Burns and Jenni Evans, co-Presidents of the Sharks, to share a little about the life of a Barton Creek Country Club Shark.
SwimTopia: What does it mean to be a member of the Barton Creek Sharks?
Gillian and Jenni: April heralds the beginning of each new swim season, and as the Sharks spirit returns to the waters at Barton Creek, we start to see fins to the right, and fins to the left! Then we know summer has arrived. We encourage swimmers to embrace our team philosophy, which is to “create a friendly atmosphere for the benefit and personal satisfaction of our children; to challenge; to learn, to think positive; to be part of a team; to enjoy the experience of competition and sportsmanship. But most importantly we want all our Sharks to develop a lifelong love for the sport of swimming!” How proud we are to see swimmers who started out as little 6&Under Shark-lets swim their way to college scholarships and even come back as a Sharks coach.
SwimTopia: Can you tell us what your meets are like?
Gillian and Jenni: The Sharks team is a family affair with a volunteer parent structure running the show for 10 wildly fun-filled weeks of 4 days-a-week practices and weekly meets. We judge and time; corral the Sharks that wander; cajole and negotiate to fill a relay; and together we all rally our team’s spirit as their cheerleaders. It’s a commitment – a big family commitment working those meets in the 100+ degree sizzling, searing Texas summer heat. I’m sure there isn’t a parent on the team who hasn’t wanted to jump in the pool and cool off in those shark invested waters!
SwimTopia: How do you promote team spirit?
Gillian and Jenni: It’s fun being a Shark! Here are some highlights – the much loved “Wacky Wednesday” candy treats; Sharks singing (or screaming – either works!) their team meet cheer; fast fun raft races; Sharks coaches dancing at every meet; cannonball dives; team pep rally and the crazy hair competition (think – neon sprayed mohawk’s and beehives!); meet music that keeps us all groovin’; capturing the memories with team and age group photo shoots and a DVD of photos, video and music; Sharks tattoos and yard signs; kids wildly screaming encouragement at the parent/coach relay swum at the end of each meet to the Jaws theme tune. And the finale – an end-of-season banquet with more music, videos, volunteer awards and a chance to recognize our Sharks with medals and trophies for all they accomplished, topped off with one last dance performance from our coaches!
SwimTopia: How involved are parents?
Gillian and Jenni: Some families have experience and a passion for swimming, years of it, passing on from parent to child. Others may be new to the world of swimming, joining to see if we live up to the reputation of being fun loving wicked swimmers! But one thing we love about swim team – it’s such a unique opportunity for parents to play a vital, hands-on role in their kids sport. For our swimmers, seeing their parents being active team players – well, their smiles are the best measure of how much that means to them. We appreciate our Sharks parents – they make the Sharks proud and great and the team simply could not happen without them!