Updated July 11 with Fitter & Faster Free Clinic Information
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, July 9. ACCORDING to various reports from media outlets in the Philadelphia area, the Valley Club of Montgomery County has been accused of booting a summer camp to the curb because members of the private club were heard voicing their displeasure that minority children – African-American and Hispanic – made up the population of the camp.
A day camp based in Northeast Philadelphia, Creative Steps Inc. made arrangements with the Valley Club that would allow its campers to use the pool on Monday afternoons through Aug. 10, according to an article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer. The campers, ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade, used the club in late June and a few, according to the article, claim to have heard racial remarks spewed by club members. Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones and USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus comment in video player below.
Shortly after, Aletha Wright, the camp's Executive Director, received a refunded check of $1,950, the cost of using the club on Monday afternoons through Aug. 10. No reason was given for the refund, except that members of the Valley Club did not want the campers using their pool. Creative Steps Inc. and parents of the campers are considering filing a lawsuit against the club.
In response to the allegations, Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones and USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus have released a pair of statements:
"The acts of blatant racism shown towards the young kids with Creative Steps Day Camp in Philadelphia have no place in America and should not be tolerated by anyone. As a member of the USA Swimming's National Team and an African-American in the sport of swimming, hearing about what's happened to these 65 kids is both disturbing and appalling. I work hard everyday through my efforts with the USA Swimming Foundation and Make a Splash to increase the exposure for as well as enhance the number of African-American and Hispanic young people entering the sport of swimming, not just because it's a great sport, but because learning to swim and understanding the importance of being safe in and around the water are life-saving skills that no one should be denied."
"The alleged statements made by The Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley (PA) and it's president, John Duesler, are disheartening especially as we are working hard to try to increase diversity in pools across America. We do hope this unfortunate incident, or others like it, will not prevent or dissuade young people of color or other minority children from learning to swim. All kids, regardless of ethnicity or economic backgrounds deserve the opportunity to learn to swim and enjoy the sport."
The day after news of the alleged discrimination came out, the Fitter & Faster Tour invited each of the 65 swimmers involved in the incident a free clinic when the tour reaches Philadelphia on August 23. Olympians scheduled to appear at the stop, slated for William Penn Charter School, are Megan Jendrick, Matt Grevers, Christine Magnuson and Mel Stewart.