Aquatic Center 4cThough their reasons and personal connections vary, there is one common thread that ties members of the H2Orioles closely together — a passion for swimming.
Officially known for the past year and a half as the Charlotte Michigan Pool Support Committee, the 501(c)3 non-profit is ready to announce its presence to the community and continue its mission of supporting all aspects of the Charlotte Aquatic Center.
The seven-member committee’s first incarnation was tasked with helping keep the Charlotte Aquatic Center open through the passage of the 2012 recreation millage. The millage was the committee’s first step in its efforts to increase community awareness. The H2Orioles have pledged to take awareness of all the Charlotte Aquatic Center offers to a new level.
“There are a lot of positive things taking place at the Aquatic Center,” said Sarah Cool, vice president of the H2Orioles. “I think it’s still one of the best kept secrets in the community.”
The secret, though, is starting to get out. One key element has been the introduction of the Charlotte Middle School swim team and the Charlotte High School varsity swim team. Cool said the pool committee was instrumental in getting the middle school team started, which served as a feeder program to the varsity team, which debuted in 2014.
“We’ve set up a ladder approach,” said Steven Kineman, president of the H2Orioles and volunteer coach of the middle school swim team. “We have our Baby Bugs, Tiger Sharks and middle school team, which are all volunteer led groups. They work their way up to the varsity team.”
H2Orioles will serve as support to those programs, much in the same way as the Charlotte Band Boosters support the band and the Charlotte Athletic Boosters support the high school sports teams.
Still, much of the group’s focus initially will be highlighting the many accomplishments of local youth participating in all levels of competition — from the Tiger Sharks and Dolphins to the middle school and varsity teams — as well as the many opportunities available to swimmers of all ages.
Diane Sowle, H2Orioles secretary, said she first got involved with Charlotte Aquatic Center when her husband needed a place where he could get a low-impact workout. He had been driving to Waverly regularly to use their pool. Once he discovered the Charlotte Aquatic Center, Sowle said it made their lives much easier.
“In the winter he goes to the pool practically every day it’s open,” Sowle said. “I enjoy the benefits too and have made a lot of wonderful friends through community involvement.”
Getting the entire community to realize the benefits and accessibility of the Aquatic Center will allow the district to maximize its use, Kineman said.
“I have seen the benefits all my life of people enjoying the water and learning how to swim,” Cool said. “I think one of the most important things a community can provide for its people is a place to learn to swim.”
Providing opportunities for students to grow through competition was also an important factor for H2Orioles member Lyn Danes, who grew up in a community that offered middle school and high school swim teams. Her granddaughter participated in the joint Charlotte/Eaton Rapids swim teams in the past, but had to travel to Eaton Rapids to participate. She said has been involved with the H2Orioles because she feels its important for current students to have choices locally.
Supporting the swim clubs and teams in Charlotte financially is an important goal of the organization. The H2Orioles are working to raise $5,000 to match a $5,000 challenge offered by a local community member. To this point, the H2Orioles have received a number of private donations, but will be looking at fundraising opportunities in the future.
If you would like to donate or learn more about the H2Orioles, contact Cool at