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'Day of Joy' Swim Meet Brings Teams Together, Raises Money for Penn's Valley Pool

by on July 19, 2014 1:31 PM

Isaac Karp of the Penn’s Valley swim team thrashed his legs with fury, steadily driving his unwieldy black inner tube down a lane of the Park Forest Community Pool in State College towards his cheering teammates.

The inner tube relay was only one in a series of events at the Park Forest pool Saturday morning for the seventh annual “Day of Joy” swim meet. Swim teams from all over Centre County congregated in State College on Saturday for a series of wacky relay races, including the inner tube and noodle relays, piggyback relay and three armed relay (which is similar to the land-based three legged race).

Isaac says some of these relays are more difficult to swim than a regular lap, but each offers a fun challenge to enjoy with his teammates.

“I like everything we do over the course of the day,” he says.

For Issac’s mother Joan Karp, Saturday’s event wasn’t only a chance for her son to have fun with fellow swimmers. It was a display of the camaraderie felt between the various swim teams across Centre County.

Karp, one of the head coaches of the Penn’s Valley pool swim team, says the privately-operated pool has been in a difficult financial situation for years that was complicated by the retirement of the pool’s volunteer maintenance man of the last 20 years. When parent representatives from the Central Pennsylvania Swim League learned about the pool’s position, they responded with an outpouring of support.

Jim Pawelczyk, a State College Area School District board member and organizer of the Day of Joy, says the process was simple: “We all agreed that Penn’s Valley needs to remain a viable pool, so we’re taking all of the proceeds from our concessions today and donating it to them.”

Karp says she was touched by this show of “immense kindness and support,” and hopes that the money raised will offset the yearly cost of maintaining the “antiquated” Penn’s Valley pool throughout the winter.

This theme of countywide friendship was evident on every level of Saturday’s event. For each event participants partnered up with swimmers that would normally be their rivals, creating teams that spanned ages, genders and hometowns. 

“I like it when all the teams come together like this,” Collin Leave, 11, of the Park Forest swim team says. “You get to meet a lot of really good swimmers.”

For Meghan Lewis, 13, of State College’s Science Park Recreation Association swim team, the Day of Joy encapsulates what she enjoys about swimming. Though it may more individualized than some sports, her favorite part is being on a team with her friends and meeting new athletes from around the area.

“It’s the people that really makes this fun,” Lewis says. “I think most of my motivation comes from my friends.”

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Michael Martin Garrett is a general assignment reporter for StateCollege.com, a graduate of Penn State and a published poet. He's also a musician who plays bass in an indie rock band.
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