HARTINGTON — Sue Reifenrath started the legacy of the Dolphin swim team here in Hartington.
And what a legacy it is.
Sue started the program back in 2007 when she and her family moved back to Hartington. She had belonged to the Hartington Dolphin swim team as a child, but the team faded away over time. That quickly changed once she was back in town. Once she got things rolling, the Dolphins had as many as 90 members
Once she got things rolling, the Dolphins had as many as 90 members on the team from ages eight-and-under to age 18. The team dominated all of its competitions in those days, too.
Today, the numbers are in the 40s and the dominance of the East Husker Conference has disappeared.
“We used to win meets by hundreds of points,” current coach Anna Reifenrath said. “Now it’s hard to compete with the programs that have people swimming all year around.”
The younger Reifenrath knows exactly how that situation works as she was a member of the swim team herself.
Anna grabbed the reins of the program while still able to compete, and is now trying to get it back to the level her mother placed it at.
“When we came here, Mom was bummed there wasn’t swimming here in town,” Anna said. “She decided to do something about it. She had a passion for swimming along with volleyball. I carried that with me, and I’m trying to make it back like she would want it.”
The Dolphins didn’t compete the first year, but Sue made sure they were competitive from there on out. “There were a lot of great teams in the beginning,” Anna said. “Mom was
“There were a lot of great teams in the beginning,” Anna said. “Mom was very competitive and wanted the kids swimming to be successful.”
And they were.
The proof was in the pudding, or in the pool, so to speak, and success was abundant until the participation numbers began to dwindle for the Dolphins.
“I remember when we first had the teams, we were pretty good,” Anna said. “Then kids started doing other sports, which is fine. I just wanted to keep the program going.”
Despite the ebbing numbers, Anna looked forward to coming home to help.
“There was no way I was going to let this slip,” she said. “I loved the swimming, and around here, you only do that in the summer. Mom loved it, too.” Addison Peitz, who graduated from the program and then went on to
Addison Peitz, who graduated from the program and then went on to swim on the University of Nebraska-Kearney team, bridged the gap between mother and daughter, but the sentiment of the program never faltered from Sue’s original task some 16 years ago.
“I had to keep it going,” Anna said. “And we have a pretty good team this year.”
The Dolphins will be in action again this Saturday when they travel to West Point for a swim meet.
The local team will host a meet Wednesday, July 6.