Swim for Sports fundrasier to support Bainbridge student-athletes

(L-R) Hannah Tonsmann, Emily Silver and Marcus Tonsmann at Swim for Sports in 2009. - Photo courtesy of Leilani Tonsmann
(L-R) Hannah Tonsmann, Emily Silver and Marcus Tonsmann at Swim for Sports in 2009.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Leilani Tonsmann

After raising $8,000 for Bainbridge High School athletes last summer, the Swim for Sports fundraiser returns June 5 at Wing Point Golf and Country Club.

“We decided that it would be great to do some sort of fundraiser to give back to the community,” said Gina Kapel, Swim for Sports co-coordinator and co-chair of Wing Point’s Membership and Marketing Committee. “With all the budget cuts, schools seemed like a great option. Because we’re a sport club, we thought it’d be great if we could do it with the athletic department.”

All the proceeds from Swim for Sports will be donated to the BHS Booster Club to offset athletic participation fees. The $8,000 raised for student-athletes last July created 34 participation scholarships, which were awarded this year.

The BHS athletic fee of $200 has more than doubled in the last three years. The fee grew from $95 in 2007-2008, to $115 in 2008-2009, to $200 this year.

While the athletic fee will not increase in the next academic year, the spike has created a financial challenge for many families.

“We pretty much have been able to meet all the requests this year,” BHS Athletic Director Annette Duvall said. “I believe there are some people who have not yet paid.”

Athletic fees on the rise

Unlike many districts in the Seattle area, Bainbridge does not give a participation fee discount for families with several student-athletes.

Without a discounted rate for families with multiple children or for multi-sport athletes, the Bainbridge Island School District’s fee is one of the highest in the area.

The Mercer Island School District charges $175 per sport, but also waives the fee for a third sport.

Many districts also have caps on the total fees families pay. The Lake Washington School District charges $275 for the first two sports, but the third is free. Families pay a maximum of $1,000 per year.

Participation fees are often created due to budgetary constraints, Duvall said.

“We will see more schools starting to charge athletic fees to try to offset the areas that their budget is being impacted,” she said.

The fee amounts were studied closely, district spokeswoman Pam Keyes said.

“They always did demographic community comparisons – but not just the physical demographics, but those districts that had the same perception the quality of the athletic program,” she said.

Some students who played multiple sports received more than one of the 34 scholarships, Duvall said.

“We’re hoping the second time around we have more participation and more sponsorships and are able to help more families in the future,” she said.

Goal is 100 participants

Emily Sonnenfeld, who swims for the Spartans, participated in the event last year.

“I knew we had school fees, and I knew that they’d recently been growing and stuff,” she said. “But I hadn’t really thought that people had not been able to participate in sports that they wanted to because of the fees.”

Sonnenfeld, now in her junior year at BHS, plans to participate this year.

“It’s important because – especially how exercise has been going down in the U.S. – if a kid wants to participate in a sport they should be able to,” she said.

Participants will swim for 20 minutes, and can be sponsored per lap or through a flat donation.

Last year, 60 community members – ages 5 to 64 – participated, swimming nearly 2,000 total laps.

The top island swimmer – a 9-year old – raised $1,140. Four students raised $400 each, Kapel said.  

Swim for Sports’ goal is to gather 100 participants this year, she said.

The top five swimmers will receive prizes, and Olympian Emily Silver will also attend the event.


Swim for Sports fundraiser

8 a.m. - noon, June 5

Wing Point Golf and Country Club pool

Contact: Gina Kapel,

District athletic fees, per sport

Lake Washington: $275. Third sport free. Maximum $1,000/family.

Bainbridge: $200.

Mercer Island: $175. Third sport free. Maximum $700/family.

Bellevue: $100. Maximum $300/family (2010-2011)

Shoreline: $100.

Seattle Public Schools: $75. Second sport $25, third free.

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