Rowan Aquatic Club celebrates 40 years of swimming

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 18, 2023

SALISBURY — For 40 years, parents in Salisbury have brought their children to improve their swimming skills at the Rowan Aquatic Club (RAC). RAC was founded in 1983 by Phyllis Steimel, who started the club after moving from Camp Lejeune and discovering that there was no active team for her daughter, Mary Jo. RAC, is also known as RACY as it is a Y team. The stuck as the team abbreviation while Rowan County became known for producing strong swimmers, thanks to Steimel’s leadership.


Submitted photo …
Phyllis Steimel

To mark this anniversary, on Saturday, April 15, RAC will celebrate with a reunion dinner at the Country Club of Salisbury and includes generations of swim families. At the reunion, Phyllis Steimel will be the main guest of honor. She was behind a great number of athletes who earned state records, became all-stars, earned top times in the country and went on to successful collegiate futures. She was named as the American Swimming Coaches Association Age Group Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1991, as well as North Carolina Swimming Coach of the Year.

By the time Steimel initially retired as a RAC coach, Todd DeSorbo was one member of an outstanding team of swimmers she had produced. DeSorbo was a triple state champion for Salisbury High, then a conference winner and team record holder at UNCW before launching a coaching career that would see him lead the USA in the 2022 World Championships, produce five Olympic medalists and two victorious NCAA Championship teams in 2021 and 2022. A Salisbury Sports Hall of fame inductee in 2022, DeSorbo is the reason behind a lot of excitement at the pool now, as he is leading a swim clinic for any and all interested swimmers as part of the RAC reunion weekend.

Steimel continues to swim at the Y with the RAC adult group. She was Senior Games state champion in 2019, and earned top six in the Senior Games National meet. She is probably best known as a skilled artist who is a founding member of Plein Air Carolina, and continues sharing her talents as an instructor at the Waterworks Visual Art Center.

The celebration at the country club will feature a silent auction, speeches and a buffet. One of the items to be auctioned is a Steimel painting. All former swimmers and families not yet with tickets are encouraged to call the Y at 704-636-0111 to secure seats. For any swimmers interested in the clinic headlined by Todd DeSorbo or for more team information, email

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