By Mike Watkins//Correspondent
Long-time USA Swimming corporate partner Phillips 66 has been a sponsor since 1973 and involved in the sport overall for seven decades. Today, Phillips 66 believes they can improve lives through energy, and in that spirit, usaswimming.org is highlighting swimmers of all levels who have benefited from Phillips 66's contribution and chosen to give back to the sport of swimming or to their community.
In their few short years as a team, the swimmers at Virginia’s Shark Tank Racing Squad have been no strangers to giving back in a variety of ways to a variety of causes.
Last fall, the team – which numbers less than 40 with age ranges from 8 to 22 in the greater Fairfax area – adopted a local shelter and food pantry, raising $7,700 to support the mission of serving disadvantaged families in Fairfax County. Over 90 families were supported by their effort.
This Sunday, just as they did a year ago, 37 team members will take on a cause close to the heart of coach and co-founder Patty Friedman by swimming 5,000 meters each to help find a cure for breast cancer. The event will occur from 2:30-5:30 at Woodbridge Sport & Health in Woodbridge, Va.
The swimmers will be joined by friends from other area swim teams to raise money and awareness for the two-day, 39-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which Friedman will participate in May 5 in Washington, D.C.
“At the Shark Tank Racing Squad, we challenge our swimmers to see the bigger picture, to use their gift to help others and to rise above what is expected,” Friedman said. “They are encouraged to always take the opportunity to lead and resist the urge to fit in.
“These are remarkable children who are sharing with their donors information that they have learned about breast cancer. Many are studying the details about different types and levels of breast cancer. I'm so proud of the people that they are becoming, and I cannot wait for our marathon this weekend. It is one of the many times that we come together as a family but this is one of the most poignant and special ways that we all connect.”
During last year’s marathon, swimmers finished with a cumulative 250,000 meters to raise $6,500 toward Friedman’s $14,000 donation. They also attended the Avon Walk to cheer on their coach as well as the thousands of other participants as they rounded the final turn of the walk.
This year, the swimmers will travel to the opening ceremonies for the Avon Walk, which will take place on the Washington Monument grounds. At the present time, the team’s fundraising goal for the Walk is $7000, and based on past experience, it’s a number they will most likely meet and surpass.
Friedman said the effort to get the team members to see the world beyond themselves lies first with her and fellow coach Lance Page.
“As a coaching staff, we try to set an example of giving back, and we give our swimmers chances to contribute to their community with team-supported charitable work,” Friedman said. “We feel it is our responsibility to guide our athletes in their pursuit of excellence. We desire to be a part of building elite people who are strong in body, heart and mind and generous in spirit. We strive to give them opportunities to see and feel the joy of a benevolent nature.”
More information and the opportunity to make a donation to Shark Tank’s efforts to fight breast cancer can be found on Team Shark Tank’s individual fundraising page on the Avon Walk website. For more information about the Shark Tank Racing Squad, visit www.sharktankracingsquad.com.