Stanley Stingrays complete first season

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Stanley Stingrays 2021

By Randy Arrington

STANLEY, July 29 — Page County’s first swim team — the Stanley Stingrays — completed its inaugural season on Tuesday night at Hawksbill Pool in Stanley. It was the last of six meets held over the last six weeks, and it marked the completion of something that took a lot of time and effort to get going.

“This year was a little different with COVID,” said Lauren Reed, vice president of the Stingrays’ board of directors.

Reed is referring to the fact that no team scores were compared at meets this summer among the six participating localities in the Shenandoah Swim League. Individual competition saw the Stingrays remain in the heat of many races, but it was COVID-19 that initially kept the young swimmers from the starting block all together.

In early 2020, the Stingrays began to form after several years of growing participation in the league by swimmers from Page County. For example, in 2012 the New Market Lightning — the closest team in the Shenandoah Swim League — had two swimmers on its roster from Page County. The following year it was four. By 2019, the number had grown to 32.

“A group of teachers started approaching me about starting a program here,” swim coach Corey Harlow told the Stanley Council in February of 2020. “We’re willing to do the work to get the financial part done. What we’re looking for is a commitment from the town.”

And the town committed fully to the program — from scheduling to provide the facility and staff it with lifeguards for practices and meets, to even answering “emergency” calls. Parks and Rec Director Teri Beers received such a phone call during a recent town council meeting that coincided with a Stingray event — a team member had gotten sick in the pool.

“When that happened, she had the best, easy-going…we’ll take care of it…attitude about it,” Reed said.

Reed said the entire Stingray organization, from directors to swimmers and parents, shared a great appreciation for both Beers and Stanley Town Manager Terry Pettit, for all of the effort they put into the team’s success.

“They were amazing,” Reed said.

But after setting up registration the month following the Stanley Council’s nod of approval last year, both the league and the team would cancel their 2020 schedules in late May due to the then-growing pandemic. The launch of the Stanley Stingrays would have to wait another year. That’s what made this June’s debut in the water extra special.

“The first swim meet was so electric and joyful,” Reed said. “We all felt like the hard work we had put into it was worth it.”

Despite the difficulties, the Stingrays featured 45 individual swimmers in their inaugural season and are expected to approach the league’s limit of 60 participants next summer. The swimmers competed in three age groups: 8 and under (youngest Stingray was 4 years old); 8 through 12; and 18 and under (oldest Stingray was 16).

The six-team swim league that first formed in 1996 may see a seventh member added from Front Royal next year, but currently the participating programs include:

  • Stanley Stingrays
  • Strasburg Waves
  • Woodstock Dolphins
  • Edinburg Ducks
  • Mount Jackson Fins
  • New Market Lightening

“It was an absolute pleasure to watch this idea come together to represent Page County,” Reed said. “It was a strong, proud presence…It allowed for camaraderie. It brought out kids from all over the county, not just Stanley, but from Shenandoah and Rileyville.”

Next February and March, the Stingrays will start taking registrations for the 2022 season, which will likely begin in late May and extend through mid-July. The swim program is open to ages 4 to 18.

As Reed reflects on the first season of Page County’s first swim team, she talks about the advantages of socialization and the obvious health benefits for the participants. She mentions the pride the swimmers felt in representing their county and their town. She sings the praises of volunteers — “people who had no kids [on the team], who got in the pool and taught kids how to swim.”

But among the many benefits the Stanley Stingrays offered, Reed feels that in light of the isolation that the pandemic has brought over the last 15 months, there was one big advantage to being a Stingray.

“They learned how to get out of the house for six weeks.”

For more information about the Stanley Stingrays swim program,

call Vice President Lauren Reed at (540) 742-3996 or check out their Facebook page.



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