Friday, December 4, 2020

Don’t Miss Miss Dottie’s Duck Derby

Miss Dottie and her ducks

Miss Dottie and her ducks

By Natalie Strom

Miss Dottie’s rubber duckies are getting ready to go back to work. The 17th Annual Dottie’s Duck Derby is set for March 10th at 11:00 AM. Once again, rubber ducks will race down the olympic-sized swimming pool to raise money for the YMCA’s Aquatic Program.

Everyone knows Miss Dottie. If she didn’t teach you or your kids to swim, you may know her from her sports commentaries in local publications or simply through visiting the YMCA. After all, “my life is spent here,” she explains. Miss Dottie has been Aquatics Director of the Marco Island YMCA since 1990. This was the year the YMCA first featured a pool. Dottie and her late brother, Arnold Lawrence, an architect, designed the L-shaped pool that functions as her teaching center.

Arriving from Brooklyn, New

Miss Dottie teaches Sam Johnson, age 3, on his first day of swim lessons

Miss Dottie teaches Sam Johnson, age 3, on his first day of swim lessons

York in the early 70’s, Dottie immediately knew that she wanted to help teach the local kids water safety. Having an extensive background in competitive swimming and synchronized swimming as well as serving as a lifeguard at Manhattan Beach, Dottie had the perfect qualifications. With no pool available at the YMCA, she first began teaching Marco’s children at the Island Country Club. After more than ten years at the Island Country Club, Dottie had to pursue other options to teach water safety to “her babies.”

Four years later, the pool she helped design opened at the YMCA and it has been her teaching sanctuary ever since. The beautiful pool is in constant need of maintenance, as most often are. Regular maintenance work includes changing pumps and filters, constant balancing of chlorine and

YMCA Aquatic Center

YMCA Aquatic Center

other chemicals, and pool and pavement resurfacing. And the list goes on. Miss Dottie helps maintain all these things along with teaching swim lessons and organizing Bingo and Mah Jongg. She also runs the Annual Duck Derby.

This years Duck Derby will raise money for necessary repairs to the pool pumps and wells. The funds will also help with all the other operational and maintenance expenses necessary for the pool and surrounding area of the Aquatics Center.

The Derby, in its 17th year, is both cute and competitive. Ducks can be purchased at $15 per duck or two for $25. There are also “Celebrity” ducks and “Corporate” ducks. These ducks are $30 a piece and have the name of the person or company on the bottom of the duck. The donor also gets

Lily 5 and Sam 3 take lessons with Dottie with the help of their dad Oscar Johnson

Lily 5 and Sam 3 take lessons with Dottie with the help of their dad Oscar Johnson

to keep their Celebrity or Corporate duck. The Celebrity ducks feature “Fun in the Sun” attire; with beach ball in hand and swim goggles on, they are ready for competition. The Corporate ducks feature “Rainy Day” attire. Carrying an umbrella, they will race more comfortably when being hosed down by the Marco Island Fire Department. The MIFD happily volunteers its time to spray its fire hose at the rubber duckies, “encouraging” them to race one full lap down the olympic-sized pool.

Regular duck races start with preliminary races of about fifty ducks at a time. Dottie usually runs about four to five preliminary races as there are so many participants. The top ten from each heat move on to the semi-finals. Twenty-five ducks make it to the final round. First place duck

Rubber duckies of years past

Rubber duckies of years past

receives $300, while second place receives $200 and third, $100.

Corporate and Celebrity races will be held between the regular duck racing. The winner of each race receives a special prize.

Miss Dottie and her ducks help make it possible to provide private and public swim lessons through the YMCA.  They also make it possible for the Greater Marco Family YMCA to host a swim team, water-wise safety classes, water aerobics, AM aquatics and even aqua zumba.

Purchase your duck today and make sure to make it down for the races. A day of family-friendly fun with music, refreshments and racing rubber duckies. Who could ask for anything more?

Stop by the Greater Marco Family YMCA and register for your favorite racing ducks in any of the categories. For more information on how to register, call the YMCA at 239-394-3144 or visit www.marcoislandymca.org.

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