The Otters–25 Years of Swimming the
The Otters Swim Team was born in the fall of 1989, when a small,
but dedicated nucleus of Annville-Cleona Dolphin Swim Team parents
and coaches approached Lebanon Valley College with a request to
lease the pool in the college’s newly-constructed Arnold
Sports Center. LVC agreed to provide pool time to the fledgling
Otters organization, which hoped to establish a winter age-group,
competitive swimming team based in Annville.
Twenty-five years and and hundreds of Otters later, the
team is a thriving presence on the LVC campus. Now competing in the
3-A division of the Central Pennsylvania Aquatic League, the Otters
have won quite a few division championships and launched many
Otters to successful college swimming careers.
Yet swimming success is only part of the Otter experience. The
organization is defined by a friendly, encouraging, and team-minded
atmosphere, one in which all efforts and abilities are welcomed and
celebrated. Led by Jim and Mary Gardner, the same head coaches
present since its founding, the team functions like an extended
family, as older swimmers regularly mentor the younger set. Each
year, Lebanon Valley College students assist in coaching the team,
while numerous Otters, upon high school graduation, choose to
attend LVC and join both its swim team and the ranks of the Otters
During the summer months, the team competes as the Otters at
Annville-Cleona in the B division of the Mid-Penn Swimming League.
The Otters practice and host meets outdoors at the Annville-Cleona
Pool, where the A-C Swim Team (originally the Dolphins and now the
Otters) has competed since the 1960’s. The team is steeped in
both tradition and camaraderie, as many children of those early
Dolphins now don the suit of the Otter and dive into the same pool
their parents did.
The Otters swimming program emphasizes stroke development in an
atmosphere of personal relationships. Its vision is that each
swimmer will strive for both the improvement of skills that will
span many swim seasons and the development of character that will
last a lifetime.