The Turlock Sea Dogs, the community’s 76-year-old youth swim program, wants you to know that they haven’t gone anywhere.
And they don’t plan on going anywhere.
After struggling to regain their footing following the pandemic, the Sea Dogs are looking to rejuvenate the program for next season.
“We’re positioned to come back stronger than ever,” said Rachel Comer, a Sea Dogs board member and lead representative. “We’ve been around for 76 years, and it’s really a great sub-community of Turlock.”
Coach Marcia Schipper, who started coaching the Sea Dogs in the early 1970s, is committed to helping the program succeed.
“It’s something I’ve done most of my life,” said Schipper, who taught assistant coach Noah Cossey to swim when he was just 3 years old. “I love it. I’m not ready to give up yet.”
Two of Schipper’s grandchildren — Tyler Miller and Sienna Powell, both Sea Dog alums — also came back to help her coach.
Oftentimes, the Sea Dogs have more than 100 swimmers on their roster, ranging in age from 3 to 18. This year, the club had just 48 swimmers — more than a 50 percent loss of revenue.
“Our coaches are volunteering their time,” said Comer. “And the Manteca Dolphins hosted a meet last month and invited us. We didn’t have to pay an entry fee. Our swimmers weren’t able to officially place in the events, but we wouldn’t have been able to swim at all if we had to pay entry fees.”
To make up for the budgetary shortfall, the Sea Dogs will be hosting their Swim Olympics on July 20 at 6:15 p.m. at the Turlock High School pool.
The public is invited — admission is free — to watch swimmers, coaches and parents compete in relay events. There will also be a raffle for prizes and $2 root beer floats.
“And if members of the public care to make a donation for sponsorship, that would be welcomed,” said Comer, whose sons, 7-year-old Theo and 6-year-old Everett, completed their first season swimming for the Sea Dogs. “My kids love it, and the coaches are doing this because they love it.”