SALINE COUNTY, Ark. — The fairly new Bauxite Swim team will never forget this week competing in their second swim meet of the season.
For the first time since the program started, the team geared up Thursday, Jan. 17 in full uniform, thanks to deputies with the Saline County Sheriff’s Department.
The swim team, made up of eight athletes, started their day like any other.
“The program is starting its 4th year, so it’s still very young," said Dave Carter, swim coach. "I’m the fourth coach in 4 years.”
Carter said school dollars are tight, so the team is responsible for purchasing their own uniforms.
“They buy their own swimsuits, all have to be black," he said. "Other than that, they brought their own towels, did the things they needed."
Though they don’t match, and teams around them typically sport matching outfits from head to toe, Bauxite still proudly pours their all into swimming, hoping to get better at every meet.
Deputy Jennifer Tarvin is Bauxite’s School Resource Officer, employed by the Saline County Sheriff’s Department. Her everyday goal is to better connect with the kids in the district.
She went to the swim team’s last meet, and the athletes caught her attention quick.
“They didn’t have matching swim caps, bags and towels,” said Tarvin.
So, Tarvin took matters into her own hands.
“All kids doing any sport is important, no matter what it is, if they love it, then it’s important,” said Tarvin.
She, along with several other deputies, immediately went to work and raised money to support the Bauxite swim team.
Moments before the start of the buzzer Thursday, Jan. 17, Tarvin opened boxes full of personalized gear she and other deputies came together to purchase.
Inside, were sweatshirts, swim caps, towels and bags personalized for each team member.
They all said that moment given to them by the sheriff’s department, their school resource officer, made them feel complete.
“We feel like a team now,” said one of the athletes.
“Now we can put those in our cars, match and represent our school,” said another.
Coach Carter was just as shocked as his students.
“They have really blessed these kids far beyond what I could ever imagine,” said Carter.
The swim team now hopes to make their way to the state championship.