Smiles & Splashes! A Diversity Swim Clinic at Nationals

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Photo Courtesy: USA Swimming

By Chuck Kroll

Between prelims and heats of the 1500/800’s on the last day of the 2015 USA Swimming Winter Nationals, USA Swimming teamed with AT&T and the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority to put on a fantastic swim clinic for 41 African American children in the teaching/adaptive pool in the King County Aquatic Center.

Olympians Maritza Correia McClendon and Anthony Ervin led seven volunteer instructors from the local Central Area Aquatic Team and Valley Aquatics in four groups allowing the older kids more individual attention and the small ones more instructors to control the fun.

For nearly 30 minutes, the ‘swimmers’ had a blast as they splashed, kicked and floated front & back in all corners of the pool. Smiles abounded as the kids enjoyed the opportunity to learn from the ‘experts’ while using their colorful kickboards and wearing their new TYR swim suits, caps and goggles.

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Photo Courtesy: USA Swimming

Proud parents, members of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and even Seattle’s KING 5 News surrounded the pool deck watching the children make progress towards being safer and more comfortable in and around the water. After their ‘wet’ time it was off to stands by the competition pool where Maritza and Anthony shared their individual stories on learning to swim.

Finally photo opportunities and autographed photos were to be had for all the participants.

After the successful clinic, USA Swimming’s Multicultural & Foundation Communications Manager, Nailah Timberlake commented that having partnerships, such as with the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, are imperative in reaching underserved communities and populations.

Nailah’s  goals include seeing fears overcome, affecting change in those underserved communities and combating stereotypes within the African-American and other populations regarding swimming and the water.