By Sam Jack
The Haysville Piranhas swim team is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season. The team has been providing opportunities for Haysville youths to learn to swim, and learn to compete, since 1968.
Glenn and Rolla Crum founded the team that year. Glenn, who was already the boys swim coach at Campus High School, was the founding head coach, while Rolla handled logistics and kept track of participants’ times and scores.
“I was having to take my kids into Wichita for swim team there, and I said, ‘Why am I doing this? Why can’t I just do it at home?’” Glenn recalled. “We checked the other day, and we charged $10 per swimmer or $15 for a family. We weren’t paid; we volunteered our time.”
Both Glenn and Rolla put in countless hours, according to their son Steven Crum, who is now an assistant coach for the Piranhas, and who also serves on the Haysville City Council and represents the north half of Haysville in the Kansas House of Representatives.
“Now, in just about every Little League sport, there is a board. You’ve got a group of people that does all this,” Steven said. “Well with the swim team, the board was just my mom and dad. Dad would go up to meets early and take swimmers that didn’t have rides, and Mom would come up later and take even more people that didn’t have rides. It was just something they did, and it was completely normal.”
Steven was 2 years old when his parents started the Piranhas, and he swam in his first swim meet when he was just 4.
“Mom and Dad have had all three of their kids be on the team; they’ve had an in-law, because my wife Paige used to be on the team; and four grandkids have been on the team,” Steven said.
There was no girls swim team at Campus when the Piranhas got started, so the summer team provided the first local opportunity for female swimmers to compete.
“I had a great swimmer named Carol Hall who swam in the summer,” Glenn said. “She’s a reason we started girls swimming in the high school, too, because she was such a great swimmer – freestyle and butterfly. She still holds some of the school records.” Hall also won a State championship in 1979.
By the time Glenn Crum finished his 12-year stint as Piranhas head coach, the team had grown from an initial 35 participants, to 105. In early years, the Piranhas competed against teams from Winfield, Wellington, Valley Center, Wichita and Council Grove.
Today, Kelly Kennedy is head coach for the Piranhas; he is also head coach for the Campus Colts during the school year. Ryan Howerton, Kirsten Nicholas and Steven Crum serve as assistants.
“I started (with the Piranhas) when I was 5, and I swam through until I was 17 on there,” Kennedy said. “It gave me something to do during the summer, and it formed my love for the sport, and just for the water, I guess. There are several people that I started swimming with that are no longer around Haysville, but I’m still friends with them. You form friendship that are lifelong, just like the activity of swimming.”
This summer, the Piranhas have 114 children on the team, with the biggest group consisting of kids aged 12 and under.
“It’s a recreational league, so I want the kids to have fun and enjoy it, but I also want them to learn about competitive swimming, to where when they get to Campus, they’ve got that competitive vibe of how we do things,” Kennedy said. “When you have 5-year-olds starting out, you don’t want them to burn out by the time they’re 8 or 10, to where they don’t want to do it anymore.”
Having an active summer swimming program has helped lead both the city and the school district to support the sport, Kennedy believes. The city built the Dewey Gunzelman Memorial Swimming Pool around 28 years ago, and now USD 261 is building a new natatorium for Campus, one that should be ready in time for the 2018-19 boys and girls seasons.
“When Haysville built its pool, it was one of the top facilities around, and now the school district (has) kind of got the same attitude, of ‘We’re doing it right, and we’re doing it to where it’s going to be the top around,’ for a little bit at least,’” Kennedy said. “I look for our Campus teams to grow this year, when we open up our new pool. I think it could as much as double our team size.”
Glenn Crum said that seeing the team he and Rolla started mark its 50th season has been rewarding.
“It makes us awful proud. I think it’s something the kids enjoy, and I think it’s good for the kids, too,” he said.
The Piranhas’ season is currently underway. The team will host this year’s league finals at the Dewey Gunzelman Memorial Swimming Pool, July 13-14. For updates and more information on the team, visit www.facebook.com/haysvilleswimclub.