The Lebanon Valley Otters--
20 Years of Swimming the Otter Way
The Lebanon Valley Otters Swim Team was born in the fall of 1989, when a small, but dedicated nucleus of Annville-Cleona Dolphin Swim Team parents and coaches approached Lebanon Valley College with a request to lease the pool in the college’s newly-constructed Arnold Sports Center. LVC agreed to provide pool time to the fledgling Otters organization, which hoped to establish a winter age-group, competitive swimming team based in Annville.
Twenty years and hundreds of Otters later, the team is a thriving presence on the LVC campus. Now competing in the 5-A division of the Central Pennsylvania Aquatic League, the Otters have won quite a few division championships and launched many Otters to successful college swimming careers.
Yet swimming success is only part of the Otter experience. The organization is defined by a friendly, encouraging, and team-minded atmosphere, one in which all efforts and abilities are welcomed and celebrated. Led by Jim and Mary Gardner, the same head coaches present since its founding, the team functions like an extended family, as older swimmers regularly mentor the younger set. Each year, Lebanon Valley College students assist in coaching the team, while numerous Otters, upon high school graduation, choose to attend LVC and join both its swim team and the ranks of the Otters coaching staff.
During the summer months, the team competes as the Otters at Annville-Cleona in the A division of the Mid-Penn Swimming League. The Otters practice and host meets outdoors at the Annville-Cleona Pool, where the A-C Swim Team (originally the Dolphins and now the Otters) has competed since the 1960's. The team is steeped in both tradition and camaraderie, as many children of those early Dolphins now don the suit of the Otter and dive into the same pool their parents did.
The Otters swimming program emphasizes stroke development in an atmosphere of personal relationships. Its vision is that each swimmer will strive for both the improvement of skills that will span many swim seasons and the development of character that will last a lifetime.