Members of the Newtown Torpedoes swim team, on January 11, joined forces and hit the water at the Newtown High School pool for an event that had no first, second, or third place finishes affecting league standings, no opposing team, no heated races — but plenty of serious swimming and lots of heartfelt meaning. They swam lap after lap in the first Annual Newtown Torpedoes Swim-A-Thon, to raise money for the Daniel Barden Newtown Torpedoes Memorial Scholarship, in honor of the team member they lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy a little more than a year ago.
Torpedoes coaches Lisa Irving and Carl Fagerholm, along with the help of volunteer students, kept things organized and logged total laps for each swimmer. Participants raised a designated dollar amount as specified by sponsors for each lap they completed. Money raised — through family friends, co-workers, and door-to-door solicitations, will go to a graduating Newtown High School swimmer in memory of Barden. The award is set up through the Newtown Scholarship Association.
“It’s a wonderful way to honor him and his kind of spirit of being kind and giving to others,” Irving said.
Roughly 85 of the 125-or-so Torpedoes team members kept things going for about four hours throughout the afternoon. Each swimmer completed a maximum of 200 laps, or 5,000 yards during an hour to two hours in the water. All told, the participants completed a whopping 11,316 laps for a total of 282,900 yards. Torpedoes from the 8 and under and 9- to 10-year-old age groups swam for an hour and those from the 11 and over category swam for two straight hours.
Last year’s award recipient, Sally Martinelli — now a club swimmer at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, was among those giving their time to lend a hand. Martinelli said she feels a responsibility, after winning the award, to honor Barden and help out the Torpedoes swim team members. And it’s a fun way to do so, she notes.
“It’s great. I love all the coaches and I love all the kids I know from swimming lessons,” added Martinelli, who teaches summer lessons through Newtown Parks & Recreation’s program.
“It’s a great day for the team. This is so much fun — the kids are having a blast,” Fagerholm said.
Swimmers are still collecting donations and will do so through January 24. Those interested in contributing may visit newtownct-gov, click on the Parks & Recreation tab on the left side of the webpage, and click the Donate tab on the bottom right side of the homepage where the event is detailed.