State swimming champ Team Greenville prepares to become privately run

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Team Greenville swimmer Anna Havens Rice is one of four junior nationals qualifiers on the team. Photo by Mary Beth Lyons.

Team Greenville, a competitive swim team that just won its first state championship in 14 years, is preparing to become a privately run sports program.

For more than 25 years, Team Greenville has been managed by Greenville County, but starting with the 2019-20 swim season, the team will be run independently, according to team and county officials.

Team Greenville coach Karl Kozicki said that when the Greenville County Recreation District dissolved itself and became a Greenville County department five years ago, the county began moving in the direction of providing facilities for youth sports but not running them. Team Greenville was the last youth sport managed by the county, he said.

“The end user won’t see any difference,” said Greenville County spokesman Bob Mihalic, who said the vast majority of competitive sports operate as independent organizations here and all over the country.

Kozicki said the team has a committee looking at different structures, such as having an independent owner or a nonprofit with a parent board. The committee is examining the structure of other youth-sports organizations in the area that have separated from the county as well as other competitive swim teams across the country, said Shaun Beckish, Team Greenville booster club president.

Beckish said the financial impact of going independent is not yet known. “We’re just in the beginning stages,” she said, adding that one concern is that the coaches are now county employees. “We feel that there are more plusses than minuses. As we dive more into it, that may change. We feel really good the county gave us a year to transition.”

Being independent could help Team Greenville expand in the future, Beckish and Mihalic said. If the team wanted to start a satellite program that swims out of a different pool, it would be difficult if it were a county-managed program, Mihalic said. “This gives them the opportunity to grow,” he said.

Team Greenville has been growing. The team has 225 swimmers going into the 2018-19 season that begins Sept. 4, Kozicki said.

It is also becoming more successful, Beckish said. The team hosted the state short-course swim meet in March and came in second, beating Y Spartaquatics Swim Club, another program with Greenville County swimmers, Beckish said. Run under the umbrella of the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg, YSSC is a nonprofit affiliated with USA Swimming and National YMCA Swimming & Diving.

Team Greenville finished second in the short-course zone championship, as well. Short course utilizes a 25-yard pool.

Team Greenville won the 2018 long-course state championship in Columbia. Photo by Steve DePiero.

in late July, Team Greenville won the long-course (Olympic-sized pool) state championship, the team’s first championship in 14 years. The team won the boys’ title, the girls’ title, and the combined championship. Audra McSharry scored the most points for 15- to 18-year-old girls, while Jack Mezzagori had high points for the 13- to 14-year-old boys.

YSSC finished third in the boys’, girls’, and combined competition.

“[Team Greenville] is really building a strong culture based on hard work and swimming up to expectations,” Kozicki said. “Everyone is working together as a team.”

Four of Team Greenville’s swimmers qualified for the junior nationals: Anna Havens Rice, Riley Parker, Bruce Bannister, and Liam Walker.

“Team Greenville has such a great tradition and a strong tradition, and we don’t want to mess it up,” Beckish said. “We’re on a wave of momentum.”

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