You often don’t recognize how long you have been doing something if you enjoy doing it. That’s Mary Gentry’s story regarding 30 years of directing swim meets in the Upper Valley. These days she is the Meet Director for just about every swim meet that happens locally, but it didn’t start that way.
Gentry’s first year in the Upper Valley, she was swimming with the masters group at Dartmouth and the coach asked if she would be willing to help coach the swim team. He talked her into coaching the eight and under kids three nights a week. She enjoyed it but confirmed she was not meant for coaching. The next December when it was Winter Classic time, the team parent running the meet asked if Gentry could help do some data entry during one of the sessions.
One session became most sessions, became “Can you learn this new meet software and manage all the results processing during the weekend?” to becoming the Meet Director sometime in the early 90s. Gentry has been doing the full routine ever since. She’s run meets at Dartmouth, CCBA, Colby-Sawyer, Claremont Community Center, and of course UVAC. Technology has improved, processes are more formal, swimmers are a LOT faster, but the joy kids (and adults) show when they improve their times is the same as ever.
While Gentry has had to take on more responsibilities (fancier meets, more meets, more requirements), she loves running meets at UVAC, “I love that I have a home for all my meet stuff. No more unloading of primary and backup computer and printer and the meet supply box, and all the paperwork. I also love that we can have 300 swimmers on the competition pool deck and there are still local families taking swim lessons or playing in the Splash Park.”
Gentry is sympathetic to UVAC members, “Swim meets can be a hassle. The parking lot is full, the competition pool is closed for many hours. But for the Vermont, New Hampshire, and greater New England competitive swimming communities, they greatly treasure UVAC and all who are involved. They feel UVAC is the place to go for swim meets. They appreciate the way their swimmers and parents are treated, the opportunities provided, and the fast times achieved. Teams will keep coming and spending money not only at UVAC but in the Upper Valley, as well.”
When asked how long this generous service she gives can last, Gentry says,
“I’m willing to continue in my role. Some day I’ll give it up, I’ll retire and move away. I’m not sure when that day will come. But I know it will be more important to give lengthy notice to UVAC and the swimming community than to my boss at work (okay – she would love lengthy notice as well but I’m more replaceable there). I’m just not very good at giving up control of something I enjoy.”
Thank you Mary Gentry for your 30 years of volunteer service as Meet Director here at UVAC and in the larger Upper Valley community. We are very lucky to have you!