Olympians, Officials Help Welcome Seahawks Home
Olympic swimmer and former Havertown resident Brendan Hansen swam with the Suburban Seahawks and was the keynote speaker at Suburban Swim Center's grand reopening on Oct. 5.
NEWTOWN SQUARE–It's the moment that approximately 200 swimmers, coaches, parents, alumni and supporters have been waiting for–the grand reopening of Suburban Swim Center on Gradyville Road in Newtown Township.
On Oct. 5, the swim center's Suburban Seahawks team, coaches, parents, and a few special guests waited in anticipation for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the facility's official reopening.
A few of the notable guests included Olympic swimmer and Havertown resident Brendan Hansen–who has performed in the 2004 Olympic Games, receiving bronze for the 200-meter breaststroke; silver for the 100-meter breaststroke and gold in the 400-meter medley relay, and the 2008 Olympic Games, receiving gold in the 400-meter medley relay, as well as holding two world records in the 100- and 200-meter breastroke.
Brenda Borgh Bartlett, an Olympic swimmer who performed in the 1976 Olympics receiving 6th place in the 400-meter freestyle, was also present at the grand reopening.
Both Olympians are products of Suburban Swim Center. Terri Rhodes, president of the swim club, thanked their supporters from Hansen and Borgh Bartlett to Senator Ted Erickson (R-26), Rep. Thomas Killion (R-168), Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Chairman Joseph Catania and Township Manager Mike Trio, who were also present for the ceremony to show their support for the swim club, after nearly two years of having the swim team practice in various venues from Swarthmore College to Widener University, Malvern and Westtown.
Suburban Seahawks Head Coach Charlie Kennedy also showed his gratitude to the special guests but as well as to each of the individual coaches.
"I'm very priveleged to work with some wonderful people," said Kennedy, who has been coaching for nearly 30 years with the Seahawks, including Hansen, and has swam together with Borgh Bartlett. "They're not just doing the coaching but guiding the kids here through life."
Kennedy also highlighted several other Olympians during the night: Philip Long, Carll Robie and Tim McKee as well as World Champion Greg Jagenborg, who all are products of Suburban Swim Center.
Hansen, 30, told the crowd that the swim center was more than just swimming–they became family.
"He helped raise me," Hansen fondly shared about Kennedy. "We're a family here." Hansen began swimming with the Seahawks in 1993 when he was around the age of 12. Hansen, who still keeps in touch with Kennedy, found out about the swim center's predicament that left the facility abandoned.
"When I found out I asked, 'What can I do to help?' It was great for Bob Yoshimura [member of the board of directors at the swim center, who helped acquire the facility back] and others who helped in bringing back this home. It's great to have the water back in the pool."
Hansen, who currently lives in Austin, TX, with his wife is currently training for the London Olympics, where he has his eyes set on the winning the gold in the single races.
"The reason why I'm swimming is to win gold in London," shared Hansen. "I've won silver and bronze but not a single gold. I've never been more excited."
Hansen jumped into the pool after cutting the ribbon with state and local officials with Kennedy to race in a medley relay with a few chosen Seahawks.
Christina Leander, 16, Olivia Tierney, 15, Luke Maguire, 18, Valerie Yoshimura, 14, turned up the heat and swam against the second relay team. The second team included Camille Jablonski, 12, Kaitlyn Agger, 12, Murphy Smith, 17, who were privileged enough to swim on the same team with Hansen.