Penguins include, front row, from left, Jaida Fishbone (holding championship plaque) Seamus Maney, Dennis Maney, Liam Maney,and Camden Cotter. Rear row, left to right, Lily Irwin, Alexi Fishbone, Solil Patel, Aadi Patel, Grace Irwin, Erin Coughlan, Aimee Sanchez and assistant coaches Angelo Mavilia and Deran Quinty. Far left,looking on, is Head coach Cliff Bailey.
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SHIRLEY – After capturing a second-in-a-row league championship earlier this summer, members of the Penguins Swim Team marched triumphantly into the selectmen’s meeting Monday night, bearing their plaque of victory and accompanied by coaches and parents.

Those folks are not just proud parents and supportive onlookers, however, they are the volunteer staffand road crew that does anything and everything to to keep this all-volunteer organization going, saidTeam Manager Theresa Richards.

She noted that the team name says “Shirley Penguins” but its scope includes includes 11 area towns.

“It was a very challenging season,” in which the team lost some swimmers but gained others, Head Coach Cliff Bailey said, adding that it’s been a “huge effort” that was gratifying for supporters to see.

With a roster of 42 this year (compared to 60 last year) there are as many girls as boys on the team this season, he said, and they’ve achieved “balance, The boy’s team was more than a match for its Groton opponents. “We buried them,” he said.

Besides the swimmers’ effort, enthusiasm and drive, Bailey credited the quality of the team’s adult andstudent coaches for the team’s continued success.

Richards agreed. Helpers, assistant coaches, returnees from past years (the Penguin sign-up slate ranges from age 5 to 18) and other teams…it’s a combined effort, she said.

She underscored the “all volunteer” aspect of the team, unlike many other teams they compete against, which have hired coaches and practice year round, while the Penguins, based at Shirley’s Benjamin Hill Pool, are a seasonal group, summers only.

The season runs from June 19 to August 8, with practices two nights a week at Benjamin Hill Pool.Minuteman Summer Swim League meets follow about the same pattern, wrapping up with thechampionships on August 10. Practice sessions are determined by age, ranging from 5 to 18.With a registration deadline of June 7, there’s plenty of time to sign up for next year. The cost is $125,with a discount for siblings. Standard issue items included in the cost: cap, tee shirt, practice sessions,league dues and ribbons. Swimmers pay for their own team uniform swim suit (which is optional) goggles (required) and practice cap.