Firestone High School’s motto has always been ‘success is our tradition.’ And one could argue a tradition started by the school’s swim team back in 1989 has been a rousing success. It all began when the team decided to raise money for Akron Children’s because one of their own members was being treated for leukemia at the hospital. Fast forward to 2015 and the swim team continues to carry on their Kids Helping Kids marathon having raised more than $163,000 for the hospital through the years.
The thought of spending 12 hours in a pool – in November – would not be most people’s idea of fun. But, for the 46 members of the swim team, it’s a cherished event that helps with team bonding and kicks off their upcoming season.
Firestone swimmers spent 12 hours in the pool to raise money for Akron Children’s.
“It’s a great day for the kids,” said swim coach Carl Shallenberger. “They get excited to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s also an important fundraiser for the team’s annual operating expenses. We take what we need to cover things like gear and transportation and the rest is donated to the hospital.”
This year’s marathon was held on Nov. 14 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Firestone Natatorium. Seniors Henry Strawn and Alex Michael swam in their fourth consecutive marathon working out a system with fellow seniors Cameron Peachock and George Hearst.
Firestone swim team
“We were each in the water for an hour at a time for a total of 3 hours each,” said Strawn. “We then got a break after each hour we swam to eat and rest.”
The senior team of Strawn, Michael, Peachock and Hearst had their own dedicated lane. They estimate they swam a total of 12 miles each throughout the day.
During rest time the swimmers either stay and cheer for their teammates or retreat to the nearby activity gym where TVs, air mattresses and food, donated by local businesses, are set up.
Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, seniors Payton Rea and Sarah Stutler set the bar even higher by each completing 6 hours of swimming between the 2 of them.
Each swimmer was expected to raise a minimum of $200. Some were sponsored for every lap they swam and others received straight donations.
The Kids Helping Kids swim marathon has raised $163,000 for Akron Children’s since it began in 1989.
Before the marathon, the seniors have a chance to tour the areas of the hospital they have helped fund through the years. This year’s tour included a NICU room dedicated to the Firestone swim team.
“Seeing the room we helped build through our donations made me want to be even more proactive in my fundraising efforts,” said Rea. “It made it more real.”
“It was a great opportunity to finally see what we’ve been raising money for all these years,” agreed Michael. “It was always kind of a mystery and it was nice to see the end result.”