WILMINGTON, MA — Pending formal approval from school officials, Wilmington High School will soon have a swim team.
The North Reading School Committee has unanimously approved a request to form a co-operative swim team between Reading High and Wilmington High. The team would be co-ed and compete during the winter athletic season. North Reading would be considered the “host school” as it has a well-established swimming program.
“This is a conversation that’s been ongoing between both athletic departments. The move would support the existence of our program and make it sustainable for Wilmington as well,” North Reading High School Principal Anthony Loprete told School Committee members.
Loprete noted that North Reading’s swim team currently has approximately 25 members, but he “sees those numbers moving down a bit.” Loprete anticipates 6-10 Wilmington students would want to join the new cooperative team.
The North Reading/Wilmington team will hold its practices at Burbank YMCA in Reading before school. Home meets would also be at the Y.
“Our rent rates are going up at Burbank YMCA over the next 3 years. Rates will go from $4,500 to close to $12,000. The increased will be phased in — from $4,500 to $6,500 to $9,000 to $12,000,” North Reading Superintendent Jon Bernard told Committee members. “[Adding Wilmington swimmers] would help deter some of the cost increase.”
While Wilmington High School has no user fees for sports, North Reading High School does. North Reading would expect to receive $400 per Wilmington student to participate on the team. It would be up to Wilmington Public Schools to decide whether the district would supplement that cost or require students’ families to pay the fee themselves.
The North Reading/Wilmington team would compete in the Cape Ann League, which has already okayed the cooperative agreement. Th agreement lasts for two years, at which time either school can end the relationship if they choose.
An online petition was circulated earlier this year asking Wilmington High School Athletics Director Tim Alberts to start a co-ed swimming team. More than 500 supporters signed on.
Alberts confirmed the news out of North Reading to Wilmington Apple, but was unable to provide any specifics until he first spoke with new Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand about the cooperative agreement.
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