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Big Swim Will Provide Opportunities to Young Swimmers; Rowdy Gaines to be Honored -- March 29, 2005

NEW YORK, March 29. THE more opportunities to get children involved in swimming, the better. With that thought process in mind, consider April 16 a big day for our sport.

Created by Asphalt Green, The Big Swim will be held Saturday, April 16 and will provide more than 1,000 youngsters from ages 6-16 the chance to experience competition conditions. Each child who takes part in event, which is free, will receive a medal, a picture with an Olympian, a t-shirt and a swim cap, among other goodies.

The swimmers will also have the chance to experience real meet conditions, including the use of starting blocks, officials and timing systems. At the finish, the competitors will be met by Olympians Rowdy Gaines, Nikki Dryden (Canada) and Kristina Han (South Korea).

The Big Swim was created in 1996 by Asphalt Green, a non-profit organization that focuses largely on community service. The Waterproofing Program is a highlight of Asphalt Green’s efforts, as it teaches children in third and fourth grade how to swim. Some of these kids will compete in The Big Swim.

In addition to The Big Swim, Asphalt Green will hold a benefit on Monday, April 18 that includes a dance and an AquaShow that features swimmers, divers and synchronized swimmers. The Big Swim Benefit’s AquaShow includes Klete Keller and Rowdy Gaines, among others. Gaines, a three-time gold medalist at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, will be honored with the Al Gordon Humanitarian Award.

Gaines will be honored for his contributions to swimming and the community and has been involved with the Big Swim for seven years. The award he will received is named after Al Gordon, a supporter of numerous New York City sports organizations and an advocate of sports and fitness.

Tickets for cocktails and the AquaShow are $175 while tickets for the entire evening, which includes dinner, start at $600. For further information, call 1-800-NYC-Swim or visit www.asphaltgreen.org. Individuals wishing to volunteer can call (212) 369-8890, ext. 232.