Rancho San Dieguito Swim Team raises over $60,000 for local swimmers

Solana Beach firefighters joined Swim-a-Thon and helped flip pancakes.
(Staff members at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito)

Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s Rancho San Dieguito Swim Team (RSD) raised over $60,000 during their annual Swim-a-Thon, according to a news release. The 215 RSD Swim Team members who participated collectively swam a distance of 694,025 yards (420 miles), or approximately the distance from San Diego to San Jose, Calif. Winners were announced for fundraising, team participation, and distance categories.

Cassidy Allison and Lukas Stein were the individual winners for highest yard swims. Allison is a sophomore in high school and specializes in butterfly, backstroke, and individual medley. Stein is a freshman and specializes in butterfly and freestyle.

Proceeds from Swim-a-Thon will help fund Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s Learn-to-Swim program and lessons for local kids to learn swimming and water safety skills at the club. This year approximately 1,000 local kids will receive swim instruction through the program.

“Learn-to-Swim gets kids in the water as early as possible so they gain confidence and develop a love of swimming. The kids have a lot of fun with it and it’s wonderful to see them progress,” said Patty Mariscal, who leads swim instruction at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, in the news release.

Swim-a-Thon event at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito.
Swim-a-Thon event at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito.
(Staff member at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito)

Funds from Swim-a-Thon will also help pay for rising utility costs and new safety equipment for the Doug & Marianne Pardee Aquatics Center which is used by community lap swimmers, physiotherapy groups, a parent swim support group, and the RSD Swim Team, in addition to Boys & Girls Club members.

Marineke Vandervort, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, spoke about her connection to the pool:

“The Aquatics Center here has been part of my life for 32 years - before I had any idea that I would be part of its administration. I swam competitively for our current head coach, Joe Benjamin, who helped me prepare to swim for Colorado State University. I was a lifeguard throughout my summers in high school and college, managed the Aquatics office, and still swim a couple of times a week and see people I’ve known from the pool deck for over 30 years. The Aquatics Center has a real spirit of community, and it’s because of donors and events like Swim-a-Thon that we are able to sustain costs to keep the pool open for community use,” said Vandervort in the news release.

Funds raised during Swim-a-Thon will also support RSD staff training to keep up the team’s competitive status. RSD has received USA Swimming Club Excellence recognition every year since the ranking system’s inception in 2012 and has produced 14 Olympic trial swimmers since 2000. The team is led by Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito Aquatics Director and Head Coach Joe Benjamin, who is an Olympic trial qualifier himself and has been coaching RSD since 1995. Benjamin has overseen the growth of the Aquatics program from 30 to 500 members, and many fundraisers.

Said Benjamin in the news release, “I love our annual Swim-a-Thon because it brings the whole team together for a fun event which is different from their everyday practices or frequent competitions. It gives all our athletes a chance to be competitive in ways other than just being the fastest or winning races. It is a true collaboration between our coaches, our administrative staff, our swimmers, and our swim team parents. It is also a really good time.”