The annual event is open to students in grades 1 through 8. Students in grades 1-5 will participate in the Elementary division, while students in Grades 6-8 will compete in the Middle School division. Participants must sign up in advance to participate as a member of their school team, and they can do so at the Kennedy Pool at 5 Cherry St., by calling the Somerville Pool at 617-629-5445 or by talking to their school’s physical education teacher. Participants are asked to select two swim strokes in which they’ll compete as a member of their school team. Strokes include the front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.
Rich Cheney, director of the Kennedy Pool for the Somerville Public Schools, sums up the philosophy of this event: “I like to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they finish their event. We don’t recognize a student for coming in first. We try not to encourage the individuality of it. It’s all about team and working together.”
The event is co-organized by the Somerville Public Schools SPS and the Somerville Recreation Department to encourage youth to take swim classes and get involved in swim teams. The program is in the final stages of transitioning from a fourth-grade to a third-grade program, with the final two schools currently making that transition.
Participants in the upcoming meet on March 1 must be able to swim either 25 yards (Elementary division) or 50 yards (Middle School division), but staff members are happy to work with students who may need extra help.
As Cheney explained, the staff will “put a life jacket on a student and guide a student down the pool to make sure every child gets a chance to participate.”
Somerville has run this event more than 10 years, the last five of which have been held on the same winter weekend. Team trophies are handed out based on highest participation from a single school and best results across events for the school team in each division. The Brown School and Healey School took top Elementary and Middle School team honors, respectively, last year. Every swimmer receives a free T-shirt. Participation in this event has ranged from 80 to more than 150 students in past years. For additional information about the Somerville City-Wide Swim Meet, or Kennedy Pool hours and programs, visit www.somerville.k12.ma.us/pool.