The Pompano Beach Piranhas Swim Team has a deep-rooted history in Pompano Beach and the Florida swimming community. Team Pompano originated in the 1970’s as the Pompano Pirates and was a competing member of the Amateur Athletic Union, today’s equivalent of USA Swimming. The Pompano Pirates were one of the premier teams in South Florida. The team competed in meets all over Florida and played host to some of the top swimmers in the state. During the 1970's the team had two major claims to fame: a donation toy drive swim meet and a drag racing style swim meet fundraiser.
The Pompano Pirates Swim Team hosted one of the biggest and most popular swim meets in Florida. It was called the Santa Claus Meet. This swim meet was held every year during the month of December in conjunction with the Toys for Tots drive. The meet entry fee was an unwrapped toy that would be donated to Toys for Tots. In addition, Santa Claus would drop by the event and each participating swimmer got to spend time with Santa.
After the 1976 Olympics, the event gained more attention when Santa Claus arrived by helicopter accompanied by Olympic Swimmer Mark Spitz. Afterwards all the swimmers were able to sit on Santa's lap and get Mark Spitz's autograph.
The Pompano Pirates second claim to fame during the 1970's was a fundraising event created by parent members on the team's Board of Directors, Jim and Sue Wolff. The Wolffs created the National Association of Professional Swimming as a way of fundraising for the team. The NAPS hosted a swimming competition similar to drag racing, in which they would handicap each of the participating swimmers. The event drew swimmers from all over the world, competing for cash purses.
One year, Olympic Gold Medal Swimmers Mark Spitz, Don Schollander and Dave Edgar all signed up to swim the drag race style competition for a $10,000 cash purse prize. This form of competitive swimming gained national coverage and NAPS became the first professional swimming organization in the country.
To this day, the Pompano Pirates have given the largest cash purse in US swimming history. Michael Phelps and other world champions do not get paid for coming in first place; they get paid to swim through endorsements.
In the 1980's the Pompano Pirates left the world of AAU swimming, to join the South Florida Recreational Swim League, and Team Pompano changed its name to the Pompano Piranhas. The team had great success competing in the SFRSL. The Piranhas won 6 league championships and dominated the league during the mid 1990's. During the late 1990's, Team Pompano hosted a swim clinic with Olympic Gold Medalist, and the voice of USA Swimming, Rowdy Gaines.
In 2007 a former Pompano Piranhas swimmer, Lee Scharf, was selected to go to China to represent the United States at the World Special Olympics Swimming Championships. Lee medaled in a number of events and in 2008 became the Pompano Piranhas first world record holder.
In 2009, with hopes of adding to the team's storied history, the Pompano Beach Piranhas re-entered the world of USA Swimming with Coach Missy Kitts at the helm. Under her guidance, the Piranhas transitioned from recreational swimming back into the arena of competitive USA swimming.
In June of 2011 Head Coach Jesse Vassallo, a former US Olympian and world record holder, took over the management of the team. His insight and training have already had a tremendous impact on the swimmers. Under Coach Jesse and his assistant coaches, the USA Swimming future looks bright for the Pompano Beach Piranhas.
Pompano Piranhas 2011