MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- MCLB Albany Marines enjoy one of the best relationships with the surrounding community of any base in the Corps. The base is a valued part of Albany for what it brings to the community economically, but also for the activities of Marines and civilian Marines outside the base gates. The Flint River Rapids swim team is an example of Albany community children bonding with base children. Marines, Marine family members and base personnel bring their children to Darton Colleges indoor pool after school each day to practice swimming with children from the Albany area. According to retired Marine Maj. Mike Fonteno, whose daughter is a member of the Flint River Rapids swim team, being the parent of a swimmer on a community team has created friendships in Albany. When you are at the practices and the competitions, you talk to other parents, said Mike, a LaMarque, Texas, native. You tell them about yourself and what you do, and they share what they do you get to know each other, he said. Maj. Susan Fonteno, head of Materiel Support Branch and Jacksonville, Fla., native, said swimming has given their 7-year-old daughter Megan more confidence and a feeling of accomplishment. Although Megan has only been involved in the Flint River Rapids team for one year, she is one of the fastest swimmers in her age category. She consistently finishes first at practice and displays a good sense of friendly competition with her team mates. She finished sixth in the 6-and-under state competition last year, said Susan. We encourage her, but we dont pressure her to swim or compete. She does it because she wants to. According to Mike, the population of MCLB Albany limits on-base athletic and recreational programs, forcing Marines and family members to turn to the community for many after-hours activities. Mike said it is unfortunate the base does not offer many recreational activities. However, if they were, he would not have met as many people. According to Mike, the Flint River Rapids swim team was not the first swimming program for his daughter he looked at. He first went to the Albany YMCA and observed their swimming curriculum, but chose the Flint River Rapids swim program instead. I liked it better, said Mike. It (the Flint River Rapids swim program) concentrated more on swimming, and the facilities at Darton are outstanding. They played more water games and had other aquatic activities at the YMCA. I thought this was just a better program, he said. Jeff DeMott, the Flint River Rapids swim coach, said several children of Marines participate in the swim program held at Darton College. Everyone is more than welcome, said DeMott, a Vinton, Iowa, native and coach with 16 years experience. The program is held at Darton, but it is not a school swim team. Practices are held year round, he said. According to DeMott, continuous practice teaches the children discipline and time management. To practice and be competitive, swimming requires you to really apply yourself, said DeMott. That discipline carries over into academics and everyday life. Swimming also bring the parents together and builds ties between them, because all the parents have a common interest, he said. A key component to good community relations is a common interest. The Flint River Rapids swim team is just one example of Marine and Marine family members being involved in the community. They are also involved in martial arts associations, on community soccer teams, are active in Theater Albany and many other community activities. MCLB Albany personnel bring a lot, individually and economically, to the surrounding communities. The surrounding communities also offer Marine and Marine family members opportunities to participate in activities that are not available on base. It is up to the individual Marine and his or her family to take advantage of community programs.