The 12-year-old girl died in 2012 after a brief illness.
This weekend at the Grand Haven High School pool, young swimmers will have the chance to celebrate Shelby’s life by doing what she did best.
“We just want to share her love of swimming with everybody,” said Shelby’s mother, Kristen Hardebeck.
I Swim for Shelby Jane happens Saturday for ages 10 and younger, and Sunday for ages 11 and older. It takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days, and attendance is limited to the first 100 swimmers each day.
Shelby’s dedication to swimming was not limited to inside the lane lines. Although swimming is an individual sport, Shelby’s sportsmanship and commitment to helping others was what she was known for. Parents of Shelby’s teammates told Kristen that her daughter was a big help to their children.
“She was happy to stay after practice and help those kids who were struggling,” Kristen said. “She wanted to see everyone succeed.”
The number of volunteer swim instructors has more than doubled since the clinic started two years ago.
Sam Schulze, a swimmer for Michigan State University, had never met Shelby or her parents. But after seeing a newspaper story about Shelby, he approached them and asked if he could help with the swim clinic. Schulze’s MSU teammates were more than happy to come along to share their love and knowledge of swimming with the kids.
“It means a lot to be involved in her story and pass along how much she meant to the area,” Schulze said.
Along with in-water training, nutrition advice, dry land instruction and fun activities, Sunday’s attendees will get to meet a record-breaking swimmer. Ultra-marathon athlete Jim Dreyer will talk to kids and share his love for the sport. Dreyer, a native Michigander, has set several records and has swam across each of the Great Lakes.
Shelby didn’t get the chance to break records, but she definitely put in the effort to do it. She swam five days a week and finally found the challenge she was looking for with the Shoreline Lightning in Spring Lake.
“She was the one who said, ‘I want more, I want to get better,’” her mother said.
The Hardebeck family’s goal for the clinic is not to just teach stroke techniques, but to help kids learn how to be a well-rounded person. Shelby was also a straight-A student, fisher, hunter, skier, and a beloved sister and daughter.
“There was so much more to Shelby than just swimming,” Kristen said.
Kristen said her daughter was dedicated to everything she did, so they feel obliged to dedicate a swim-a-thon and swim clinic to her.
“As long as we have support from MSU, the sky is the limit,” Kristen said.
The swim-a-thon took place this past Saturday and saw a steady flow of swimmers the entire day.