Manta Ray Partners

 Dear Proud Alumni Parents of the Mason Manta Rays,

I hope that you and your family are continuing to be safe and healthy during these challenging times.  I would like to invite you to an information session for Mason Manta Rays alumni parents with Ken Heis and me on  “A Matter of 50 Meters”, a partnership with the City of Mason to build an indoor 50 Meter facility.  If you are interested in learning more, please join us on October 20th at 6 pm at the new aquatic center behind the community center in Mason, 6249 S Mason Montgomery Rd.  Please RSVP yes or no to me, Kathy Fish at [email protected] so we can be prepared.  We will be outdoors if the weather cooperates and move indoors with masks on if not.   If there is interest, we will also host a virtual information session.  Please let me know if that works better for you and we will schedule.  

It would be tremendous for the alumni and parents to support this project to thank Ken and his assistant Todd Billhimer for all they have done for our families and to pay it forward to the community and the next generation.  My daughter Margaret’s experience is just one example that provides perspective on how fortunate we are.  Margaret had early success in her swimming career but had several disappointing seasons and felt stuck.  The move to the Manta Rays was a gift for her and our family. Not only did her swimming improve dramatically, but she gained confidence and resilience that has served her well since.  I am sure that each of you have had your own experience that is equally powerful. 

I have been so impressed by the strength of the program that Ken and Todd have built.  This team is truly special.  They are ranked in the top 1% nationally, they have won back-to-back Junior National titles, they have 50 All-Americans, placed four individuals on the USA Junior National Team, have 10 swimmers ranked in the world 18&Under Top 100, and have 11 swimmers (and counting) qualified for the 2020 (now 2021) Olympic trials. All this has been accomplished without a 50-meter pool. The program is also outstanding for junior swimmers and has grown from 110 swimmers to 300 with a waitlist of 150 swimmers, which they could accommodate with more space. 

“A Matter of 50 Meters” is partnering with the City of Mason, which has committed to upgrade the outdoor 25-meter facility to an indoor 50-meter complex designed for versatility and elite achievement.  For swimming, it can be a nine-lane, Olympic-sized venue or a twenty-lane, short-course venue. For water polo, two full competition pools with warm-up areas are possible. Subdividing the space opens opportunities for programs like master’s and triathlon training, as well as swim lessons, all that have previously wilted from lack of usable water time. For the Manta Rays specifically, it will allow doubling the size of the current team, capped at 300 swimmers due to space constraints. It will also allow the team, which has already had tremendous success, the opportunity to train in a 50-meter facility and advance to the next level.  You can learn more in the enclosed brochure or on our website  

Like communities across the country, Mason is affected by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.  Despite the challenging environment, City Council has stepped up and approved incremental funding for the project today in order to save more in the future.  The incremental funding will allow the facility to support events, aquatic programming and swim team growth and maintain the possibility to expand the facility further.  The commitment of ‘A Matter of 50 Meters’ was key to their decision.  Building a facility is just the start.  To make operations affordable we must deliver.

Our commitment is to raise $5-8 million in private contributions to close the public funding gap over five years, to provide the $1 million currently raised to Mason by January and to raise an additional $500,000 by the end of the year and $1 million before the pool opens this summer.  To keep the 50-meter pool project on track, we need your help!

To demonstrate our commitment, my husband Stephen and I have decided to donate $250,000 towards this project and will match an additional $250,000 in donations from the alumni.  There are a host of opportunities for corporate, group, and individual participation that give everyone a chance to contribute.  The Cares Act (see attached) enacted special tax benefits for donors to qualified non-profits in 2020 which are attractive.  Sponsorship and naming rights are available.  What better way to show our gratitude to Ken and Todd than coming together to get this project over the finish line.  I hope you will give it serious consideration.  No strings attached at the information session, but a good chance to address any questions you may have and discuss possibilities.  If you can’t attend, I am happy to set up time with you individually.  Please contact me at [email protected]

Looking forward to seeing you.  

All the best, 

Kathy Fish