“Go Xavier! Go Jahil!”
Just after 9 am, the skies cleared and more than 125 young swimmers dove into the 2nd Swim for Life Meet at the A.E. Finley YMCA pool. It’s always amazing to watch young people show off their skills. It’s even more amazing when you consider that most of these children didn’t know how to swim before the start of the summer.
|Pep talk before the race|
“You’ve got a fish on your hands,” a Y counselor told a proud dad. “I know it, I know it,” said his father as he watched his son touch the side of the pool.
The swim meet is the highlight of YMCA Camp High Hopes, the Y’s fully subsidized summer day camps. This year, campers from six YMCA branches (Alexander, Cary, Durham, Kraft, A.E. Finley and Kerr YMCAs) participated in the meet. Campers competed in the following races; Breast Stroke, Back Stroke, Free Style, Butterfly, and Mixed Medley races.
“At the Y, we consider swimming an important life skill. Most of these children didn’t know how to swim before they came to our Y camps,” said Anthony Hardison, Kerr Family YMCA Community Outreach Director. “Through daily lessons, they learn basic aquatics skills. We knew if we added the competition, campers would be more excited about learning to swim.”
Nearly 60 percent of African-American children can't swim, almost twice the figure for white children, according to 2008 USA Swimming study. The YMCA wants to bridge that gap.
“It was exciting to see the volunteers and families cheer on these kids,” said Anthony. “Ten-year-old Jahil placed first in the backstroke. He couldn’t wait to show me his ribbon. And he couldn’t wait to get back in the water! That is success.”
|Anthony & Jahil|
More than 800 children attend YMCA summer day camp on full or partial scholarship. Swim instruction is a part of each camper’s day. Donations to the YMCA’s Annual We Build People program fund those opportunities.