Maplewood Makos swim team splashes to stellar summer season

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ – This year, 140 Maplewood Pool members between the ages of 5 and 18 took the plunge and joined the Maplewood Makos swim team.

With a focus on sportsmanship and fun, the team competes in the North Jersey Summer Swim League every summer. Swimming against teams like Springfield, Berkley Heights, Morris Township and South Orange, the Makos boast a 5-3 record.

With four record-breaking swims, tons of personal best times, and a few Meet of Champion winners, the season was impressive, but the real magic happened out of the pool.

The Makos took part in the league’s “Swim for Food” program, which allows swimmers to collect food for local food pantries in competition with other teams within the league. The Makos collected a total of 1,538 pounds of food, which was donated to food pantries in the area!

Every year, the Makos also participate in the swim-a-thon, where money is raised to support a local cause. Robin Peacock, Executive Director of MEND, visited the pool with her “Green Bean” – MEND’s food pantry on wheels – which is typically stuffed with fresh produce to be delivered to local pantries. She spoke to the kids about food insecurity in our area, and the need for fresh produce in food pantries. The Makos were so inspired by the work of MEND, that they raised $6,130.90 to support the cause!

“The season this year was simply amazing,”  said Jane Ehlers, head coach of the Maplewood Makos Swim Team. “The Makos learned to swim for more than themselves, prided themselves on teamwork and being regarded as having ‘the best sportsmanship in our division.’ They never failed to congratulate one another team on their wins, and even made a banner for the Springfield coach who was celebrating 20 years of coaching! They raised a record amount of money for the swim-a-thon and were able to collect 1,538 pounds of food for local food pantries.

“All this to say, they did not slack in the pool either, with two meets being decided by a one-point differential. The Makos learned the value of every swim, and worked hard each morning to get stronger and swim faster. They learned how swimming their fastest affects their teammates and themselves! We had our largest team ever this season, but we also had the most growth in each and every little swimmer, both in the pool and out!”

The Makos celebrated their season end with a party at the pool, and trophies and awards followed at the DeHart Community Center.  “The unity on the team is remarkable,” shared Melissa Mancuso, Maplewood’s Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs. “Attending Makos meets always makes me smile, as the swimmers of all ages cheer each other in to their individual finishes. I give the parents so much credit for getting the kids up early in the morning and into the pool, and thank them as well as our passionate coaching staff led by the magic of Jane Ehlers.  We had a huge team this year and with their strong swimming and charity work, we are proud of our Makos and look forward to next year.”

Photos Courtesy of Jane Ehlers, Joy Yagid Photography, and Melissa Mancuso,