Community Programs Blast Off for 2004 FINA World Swimming Championships

By Jennifer L. Pieper

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. June18. IN early October, if the Indiana Pacers' Reggie Miller wants to practice basketball in his home court at Conseco Fieldhouse, he will have to grab his swimsuit rather than a pair of sneakers.

That's because when the last drop of water is poured into the 300,000-gallon temporary competition pool that will host the 7th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), the water will be as high as the basketball rim.

A spectacle in itself, the pool is sure to be the site of amazing victories during the 2004 World Swimming Championships (25m). But to Local Organizing Committee member Raul Zaveleta, the vice chairman for community programs, the biggest victories will be the ones that happen outside the pool. With the help of his committee members, a tidal wave of community programs will hit the city of Indianapolis well before the first swimmer dives in for a warm-up lap.

Water Colors
It is second nature for American record holder Lindsay Benko to slip on her goggles and swim cap before she dives into the pool. To her, they are tools of her trade, certainly not something you would find displayed in an art museum. But to an ambitious group of Indianapolis school children, those goggles just might be a work of art.

The community partners of Young Audiences of Indiana and Indy Parks and Recreation will launch a hands-on art project for young artists in a program entitled "Water Colors." Young Audiences of Indiana is the oldest and largest provider of professional arts education programs for children in the state, working with more than 100 artists and arts organizations to provide young people the opportunity to experience the arts directly.
And during "Water Colors", the group will pair professional artists with children at after-school programs at Indianapolis Public Schools. Together, artists and children will dive in to create artwork depicting their own interpretation of swimming.

The sky is the limit when it comes to how the children choose to express their ideas. Working together, the artists and students can choose from a variety of mediums, using anything from mosaics to three-dimensional objects the children bring in themselves. As many as 11 original creations will be on display at Conseco Fieldhouse during the event.

"We hope it will be inspiring for visitors to view the collaborative art created by the kids," says Caroline Gleason Dutkanych, director of community programs at Young Audiences of Indiana. "While each group will be facilitated by a professional artist, the kids themselves will design and create each piece with swimming as the theme."

Creating the artwork is just the beginning. Approximately 500 children from the after-school program, including the young artists, will take a trip to the Fieldhouse to see their work on display and attend an evening swimming session.

"Many of the children who participate in our program are minority youth who come from economically challenged backgrounds," says Don Aguilera, manager of the office of school outreach and summer programs for Indy Parks and Recreation. "They know the Conseco Fieldhouse as the home of the Pacers and the place for special events but financially it has been unfeasible for many to see an event there. So now to be able to attend the event and see their own artwork on display – it's going to be a memory they won't soon forget."

School in the Pool
While the "Water Colors" kids explore the 7th World Swimming Championships (25m) through paints, clay and art palettes, another group of school children will be doing it through calculators and scientific equations. And when you are an engineering, science or technology student, the opportunity to examine the record-breaking, lightning-fast construction of swimming pools inside a basketball arena may come but once in a lifetime. So, for a few weeks this fall, more than 200 Indianapolis Public School students will have their own "School in the Pool."

The "School in the Pool" curriculum will be part of Purdue University's Science Bound program. The after-school program will focus on the technology and physical aspects of the construction of the pools. With notebooks in hand and construction hats on their heads, the IPS participants will also have the opportunity to visit the site during construction. Twenty-two mentor teachers throughout the IPS system will work with the children.

"The World Swimming Championships are a once-in a life time experience for our IPS students that will become an excellent learning opportunity for these few weeks and potentially excite them to explore a career for their future," says Sue Becker, IPS science coordinator.

The Purdue University Science Bound program is designed to encourage IPS students to enroll in classes and pursue careers in science, math, engineering and technology. Their encouragement is supported through scholarship opportunities. IPS students who complete the 5-year program can receive a four-year full-tuition scholarship to Purdue. Science, technology and pool construction have never been cooler.

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