Bearcat Swimmers Help with Grand Opening of Kroc Center

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's and women's swimming teams helped make the grand opening of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center a success on Saturday, Sept. 26. The Bearcats helped with several projects during the day.

Prior to working at the grand opening, the teams held their morning practice. They helped out at the Kroc Center in two shifts, with each group working for four hours. Team members helped with various tasks, including the dunk tank, carnival events, parking supervision, bus direction and trash pick-up.

The swimmers also watched a swimming exhibition by Lindsay (Benko) Mintenko, who was a member of the gold medal winning 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In the 2004 Athens Olympics, she was part of the gold medal winning 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay team and won a silver medal in the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay. She is married to Mike Mintenko, who competed in the Olympics for Canada.

Overall, 22 Willamette swimmers and coaches participated in the Kroc Center grand opening. Approximately 7,000 people attended the event.

The Kroc Center is an 11-acre, multi-purpose facility that will be used for a variety of activities. It includes an Olympic-size pool as well as a leisure pool in addition to a fitness center, rock climbing wall and 288-seat chapel. The Kroc Center will be operated by The Salvation Army.

"We wanted to reach out to the community by helping with the event. We also wanted to make our new team visible in Salem," said Willamette Head Coach Leslie Shevlin.

Willamette swimmer Hannah Connett helps direct traffic at the Kroc Center grand opening.

Willamette swimmer Hannah Connett helps direct traffic at the Kroc Center grand opening.

Jacob Munson-McGee, Janelle Higashida and Laura Braithwaite helped with trash pick-up at the Kroc Center.

Jacob Munson-McGee, Janelle Higashida and Laura Braithwaite helped with trash pick-up at the Kroc Center.