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Swim Team History

In the spring of 1961, Dot Norris and life guard Skip Norris decided to train some of the advanced swimmers to swim competitively. Skip became the coach and Dot arranged for the first and only dual meet of the season against Lake Paulinskill. Delores Bersen and her husband John helped devise an area where the swimmers would train by building an improvised "turn board" made of nothing more than a long log anchored 25 yards from the first beach dock (where the diving board used to be) and this is where our swimmers trained by swimming to the log and back. The following year Dot Norris became the Chairman of the Swimming Committee and during the next phase of the development of the swim team, Dot Norris, her husband Chet Norris and Carl Peterson constructed a free-standing, anchored, "A" frame supported dock with turn boards to replace the log mentioned above. The anchors were truck tires filled with stones.


This system had reasonable success and we competed. The newly formed Lake Shawnee Swim Team was accepted into the Bi-County Swim League and swam against Budd Lake, Lake Parsippany, Cranberry Lake, Byram Sperry Springs, Culvers Lake, Lake Wallkill and Shongum Lake at different times over the course of the next 20 years. Improvement was needed and the Board allocated money for swim lanes (4 of them) behind the Clubhouse. These lanes were made by scooping out the Lake bottom by hand and using drag-line to deepen the area. Pipes were driven into the bottom to support two docks 25 yards apart. Competition continued to get strong and there were some very exciting meets. Ice took its toll on the pipe supports every winter. Spectator space was limited at the Clubhouse so again the swimming committee went to the drawing board and drew plans for a second dock at first beach with a system of removable turn boards. This location gave the swim team deeper and wider lanes and expanded spectator space. We are known to have one of the best facilities in the league.

During the early years, communication with competitors and the crowd went from just plain hollering to the use of a bull-horn and then to a portable amplifying equipment with long extension cords. There is now power at the main dock for our P.A. system. It was also during these early years that the tradition of honking around the lake when we won a meet started. At that time many of the Lake residents were only there during the summer and many did not have phones. So driving around the lake and honking was how the swim team let everyone know they won. This tradition still continues today.

In 1981, the Lake Shawnee Swim Team joined the North Jersey Regional Lake League (NJRLL). The league now consists of twelve lake teams competing against each other and is split into the Small and Large Lakes Divisions. Lake Shawnee has taken first place in the Small Lakes Division in the past with the most recent year being 2012. We currently use a meter course to track league records and times. In August of 2012 we hosted trials and finals in Lake Shawnee and again with the help of our community we saw over 1,000 people come through our neighborhood during this very successful two day event.

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The final half of the 2022 Lake Shawnee Tribe's swim season has come and gone, but not without some big wins worth celebrating, including the most important meaningful award in the league. But first, some results. A nail-biter dual meet against our local rivals; the Saffin Pond Pioneers came down to the wire where our Tribe swimmers eeked out a surprise 6-point victory. A score that close is a result of true team efforts and every swimmer giving it their all through the last inch. Our final 2 team meets were a pair of losing efforts against the significantly larger teams from Shongum Lake and Roxbury and despite our swimmers’ best efforts.

For the uninitiated, swim season ends with a trio of league meets; Silvers, Trials and Finals, all at Horseshoe Lake and hosted by Park Lake this season. The Tribe had quite the performance in each of the all-day events. On July 30, the morning session (ages 11-up), 12 of our swimmers took home individual medals: 15-18 year olds Mikayla Cumberton & Dylan Lee: 13-14s Gavin Breiten, Chris Castle-Dalton, Kayla Lee & Phoebe Szekula: and 11-12 year olds Rosie Carroll, Madison Castle-Dalton, Andrew Doerr, Everett Johnson, Ivy Jones and Bry Liptak.  The afternoon session saw our 10 & under swimmers enjoy their time on the podium as well. Donnie Andrews, Charley Breiten and Sebastian Roth all brought home medals in the 9-10 bracket, while Angie Andrews, Anthony Cascone and Sierra Crinnian placed for 7-8s. The future of the Tribe looks bright as three of our 6 & unders, Camden Gatt, Kelty White & Harper White, earned some hardware of their own.

Next up, our swimmers once again competed against the best in the league at Trials where many Tribe swimmers qualified to race for a top 8 slot in the league finals with the best of the best in their respective events. At those Finals, the Tribe represented our community fantastically. Isabella Russell, Bry Liptak, Madison Castle-Dalton and Everett Johnson brought home the bronze in the 11-12 Mixed Medley. Anthony Cascone took home a 4th place medal in the 8 & under 25M Breaststroke and also took 5th anchoring the 8 & under mixed relay along with Sierra Crinnian, Gunnar Goldsberry and Angie Andrews. The Tribe collected 6th place finishes for Isabella Russell in both 11-12 Backstroke and 11-12 Freestyle, while Donnie Andrews stood tall in the 6th position for 9-10 25M Breaststroke. Charley Breiten impressed with a 7th place finish in the 9-10 25M Breast, while Alex Johnson doubled up with 7th place medals in 13-14 Backstroke and Freestyle, while Isabella Russell added to her already impressive collection with a 7th place finish in 11-12 Butterfly. Donnie Andrews returned to the podium with an 8th place finish in 9-10 25M Butterfly, while Mia Fischetti finished 8th in the 13-14 Breaststroke. In one of the most visually amusing races, 15-18 Billy Kuhl was the only non-Roxbury racer in the lanes and made Lake Shawnee (and every other team in the league) very proud with a strong performance, taking 8th in the grueling 200M Individual Medley.


While the individual merits of our swimmers are impressive enough, the true testament to our coaches, athletes and community will always be the humility and honor with which our team operates at every meet. Those traits were recognized by the entire league, once more, as Lake Shawnee took home its fourth straight win of the Bob Shannon Sportsmanship Award. The award is “Given in recognition of these special ideals: The enthusiastic support of your teammates, the understanding that win or lose, it is what’s inside the heart that counts & honoring the qualities of character, leadership & virtue.” This victory serves as tribute to the integrity of our community and a testament to the positive examples set forth by our coaching staff; Jamie Breiten, Kevin DenBleyker, and Sam Iversen. Part of that great team spirit comes from the activities organized by the board and coaching staff, such as the annual Water Polo match and end of year breakfast banquet and pasta party. Another great team event organized by the coaches this year was the lake swim, where swimmers (and parent Amy Gaul) swam from third beach to first beach, flanked by parent volunteers.

Swimmers' Code

If you think you are beaten, you are

If you think you dare not, you don’t

If you like to swim, but think you can’t

It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost...

For out in the world we find...

Success begins with a fellow’s will...

It’s all in the state of mind.

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