Cherry Bowl is almost here

By MELISSA DIPENTO

Record-breaking heat? Check. Record-breaking times in the 100-meter backstroke? Yep, probably that, too.

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And while we can’t promise you a repeat of Michael Phelps’ eight gold medal wins at the 2008 Olympics, what you can expect to see are hundreds of Cherry Hill students partaking in a friendly rivalry to see just which one of the township’s 13 swim clubs has what it takes to be called the best.

The 2011 Cherry Bowl, now in its 52nd year, will be held on July 30. This year, the event will be held at the Erlton Swim Club on Park Boulevard.

About 50 or so kids from each club, ages 5–18, will participate in the all-day event, said first-year Cherry Bowl meet director Phil Smart.

In total, Smart said he expects about 600 kids to be a part of this year’s bowl.

“It’s very unique. The camaraderie of swimming is not paralleled in any other sport,” Smart said. “My 8-year old…when she was 5 she participated. Her points were valued just as much as the 18-year-old’s.”

On race day, swimmers will warm up at 7 a.m.

At about 8:25 a.m., all participants will take part in a parade around the pool.

Racing begins at 8:45 a.m., with swimmers competing in five age categories: 8-years-old and under, 9 to 10, 11 to 12, 13 to 14 and 15 to 18-year-olds.

After all is set and done, one club will emerge victorious, maintaining bragging rights until the 2012 Cherry Bowl.

Smart said each club will likely collect its ribbons and awards and head back to its individual swim headquarters.

And instead of reveling in defeat, they’ll celebrate in style with a party of sorts.

Smart said the Cherry Bowl typically draws in a crowd of 2,000 or so.

Many, he added, have previously participated in the bowl and come back to support the young swimmers year after year.

Admission for the event is $5. For more information, visit ErltonSwimClub.com.

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