O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon youth swim team dives in to help food pantry

Members of the O’Fallon Breakers Swim Team display items received during their early food drive collection as part of their annual Team H2O project. In the end, the team collected more than 600 can of food and non-perishable items and a bucket of cash for donation to the O’Fallon Food Pantry.
Members of the O’Fallon Breakers Swim Team display items received during their early food drive collection as part of their annual Team H2O project. In the end, the team collected more than 600 can of food and non-perishable items and a bucket of cash for donation to the O’Fallon Food Pantry. Provided

Founded in 1988, the O’Fallon Breakers swim team has enjoyed a long and storied tradition in the community. That tradition includes unparalleled success in the pool while competing in the highly competitive, 10-team Midwest Swim Conference — capturing four Conference Meet championships over the past six year.

Moreover, at 6-0 with just three dual meets remaining before the conference meet July 22, the team appears on track for more success this season.

But if that’s not enough, the team has continued the “Team H2O” (Help 2 Others) effort initiated three years ago as an outlet for community service efforts by the team. The concept — and the H2O theme — was the brainchild of swim parents and coaches.

“It seems most high school students are obviously more strapped for time during the school year with academics, student organization commitments, sports, and jobs. So it seemed that creating viable summer community service opportunities via the swim team — annually boasting some 120 swimmers strong — made a lot of sense,” said Rick Edwards, Breakers board president.

Thus, “Team H20” was launched.

“We just wrapped up our third annual food drive just last week, collecting over 600 cans of food and other non-perishable items, plus a bucket of cash donations as well. Swim families brought in their donations to last Thursday’s Kings Point meet and swimmers young and old collected, boxed and delivered all to the O’Fallon Food Pantry the next morning,” Edwards said.

“The food pantry was an easy choice,” Edwards said. “They have been doing great work in this community for years, and the timing of our season corresponds with a time of year when donations are generally down. People tend to think about Food Panty donations around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas but not so much mid-summer. So we thought this would be a timely and therefore meaningful endeavor.”

Breakers head coach Kirsty Stooke said the “kids stepped up immediately and got involved.”

“We all know that teens and pre-teens often need a little ‘coaxing’ before they will get involved with something that’s not a sport or activity within their existing realm of fun,” she said. “But these kids signed up immediately and were eager to participate and make a difference. With all the success we’ve had in the pool, it was very rewarding to see the same level of passion for an activity beyond the swim lanes. These are good kids representing this swim team and this community in a positive way.”

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