30 years of Green Machine, Pigs and Hammerheads
A staple of the Harrison County community continues to evolve. Nestled down just off S.R. 135 in Corydon, the Harrison Poolside Park continues to bring friends together from all areas of Harrison County to share common passions: swimming and competition.
Initially, the Harrison County Swim and Dive Team had the Green Machine nickname through the 1970s and early ’80s. The tag then changed to the not-so-popular Pool Pigs. With complaining girls on the team, the Pigs didn’t last long, as another board approved the Hammerheads moniker that is used today.
This summer marks the 30th anniversary for the Hammerheads. Each dual meet the current swimmers compete in isn’t much different since their initial dive in 1977. Friendships, competition and summer fun remain the object of each swimmer.
Manda Bussabarger was a member of the inaugural team and made her return to the pool this summer, this time as a parent with her daughters Emma and Anna.
‘I started when I was eight or nine and swam here until I was 17, and I loved it,’ Bussabarger said. ‘I spent my morning until the sun came down in the water. I absolutely loved to swim.’
Things really haven’t changed much around the May & Joe Rhoads Memorial Pool either. A grant last year from the Harrison County Community Foundation helped the pool and team make upgrades with new, but still green and white, lane lines. The $5,100 grant also provided funds for a new starting system, making meets easier to call.
‘One person cannot do it all,’ current board president Gail Murray said. ‘We work closely with the parks department, and the team is ran and supported by many volunteers.’
Murray’s son, Kyle, started to swim when he was seven. Ten years later, after spending five years on the board, two as president, this will be Gail Murray’s final year running the organization. She said when many swimmers, like her son, reach their teenage years, they begin to look forward to driving a car and getting jobs, thus putting the swim team on the back burner.
Kerry Hawhee, an original member of the Harrison County Swim Team, is currently the aquatics and facilities director at the YMCA of Harrison County and still volunteers with the Hammerheads.
‘Many leaders of the community helped get and keep the Harrison County Swim Team going,’ he said. ‘It’s grown many friendships. Everyone in my wedding party … we were on the same relay team together. It really bonds the community.’
It takes about $15,000 a year to run the team, according to Murray. Only the coaches are paid, and approximately 12 to 14 corporate and individual sponsors donate money to aid costs.
This season, the Hammerheads have about 80 swimmers competing against six other teams in their region, a part of the Southern Indiana Swim Association. The Hammer-heads eliminated their dive team this year. Declining interest and rising insurance rates caused the cut, according to Hawhee, but he added the dive team could be resurrected in the future. Even without diving, there is typically 88 events at a standard dual meet.
‘Swim meets are like a big party,’ Murray said. ‘Each individual can swim up to four events and two relays. Meets can last up to four hours, which gives kids time to make friends and play cards. It’s also a place where kids from different school districts and counties have an opportunity to come together.’
Bussabarger’s return to the pool as a parent brought back many similar recollections for her.
‘One of the fondest memories I have is it made Southern Indiana much smaller,’ she said. ‘I grew up in Corydon, and it was very, very small. It was one of those things where my entire family was born and raised in Corydon. It was really neat to meet and make friends on other teams. So you grew up together. It expanded Corydon for me.’
Hawhee said he remembers a lot of swimmers crashing the old Pizza Hut near downtown Corydon after summer meets, of course, giving the business fair warning before arrival.
Presently, the Hammerheads practice Monday through Friday in preparation for their six meets that lead up to the season ending Swim Champs on July 21. The event brings together all seven Southern Indiana Swim Association teams for a jam-packed day of swimming.
This year, Swim Champs will be hosted by West Clark, and opportunities to hang out and win a few ribbons is up for grabs.
‘Many of the younger children love getting ribbons at the end of each meet,’ Hammerhead secretary Kelly Wells said.
‘They look to see if they improved, and the ribbons also lead to scrapbooking because it tends to be an individual sport.’
This season, the Hammerheads are led by head coach Casey Schneider and assistants Ashley Manger and Holly Austin, each who are past members of the swim team.
‘As a goal, we want all the younger kids to be able to do freestyle and backstroke by the end of the year,’ Schneider said. ‘We want everybody to improve their times. For the big kids, they should be able to do all four (swimming techniques) and improve on those times.’
This summer, the fun in the pool will end like it does every year, with a picnic gathering at the Harrison Poolside Park shelter house. This year, Murray and current board members, coaches and volunteers want to make it their 30th anniversary celebration featuring a fish fry. The gathering, on July 24 at 6 p.m., will bring together past Green Machine, Pool Pig and Hammerhead swimmers and the present crop to celebrate and reflect on strong memories and friendships Harrison County’s swim team provided.
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