The Margate Sharks are looking forward to becoming part of the USA Swimming swim club in April. Even though they are only just joining the national governing body of swimming that athletes such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte swim under, the Sharks have been training and prepping swimmers for years.
Chris Bradley, 15, a freshman at Mainland Regional High School, started swimming with the Margate Sharks when he was about 4 or 5 years old.
He said the Sharks helped prepare him for a high school swimming career.
"Here, stroke is key," Chris said. "Coming closer and closer to high school season, (Stephanie) really helped me with my strokes, which definitely prepared me for high school (swim)."
Stephanie Wakefield is the head coach of the Sharks; she started coaching Chris when he was about 11 years old.
This year, the Mainland swim team competed in the state championship and took second. With Mainland, Chris swam the 200 meter individual medley, in which swimmers utilize all four strokes - freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly - and the 200 freestyle relay.
During the high school swim season, which ended three weeks ago, Chris would occasionally practice with the Sharks; however, he no longer competes with them. Wakefield views Chris's absence as a success story for her team.
"I've seen so much improvement from his first season. He was always up and coming, but he really improved," Wakefield said. "Chris has been a great asset to our team. We're sad he's moved on, but he's welcome back anytime."
This season, Chris said he made CALs, "which is a pretty big deal for a freshman." CALs is a ranking system for high school swimmers. Chris added, "I feel like I did great this season."
Chris said he plans to continue swimming on the high school team, and has aspirations to continue after he graduates by pursuing a career as a Navy rescue swimmer.
He said he occasionally practices with the Sharks at the Milton and Betty Katz JCC.
"Sometimes I come to practices because they've helped me since I was really young and I just like to come back," Chris said. "The coaches have always been really positive."
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