Monday, July 30, 2012

Swim for Life Meet 2012

David Arukwe. You might want to remember the name.

Two years ago, David didn’t know anything about flip turns, diving blocks or medleys. He also had his dad.

Today, the 11-year-old competes on two A.E. Finley YMCA swim teams, the outreach team and the traditional summer swim team.

David started learning basic swim strokes at YMCA Camp High Hopes, the A.E. Finley YMCA’s subsidized summer day camp.

“Most of these kids, like David, didn’t know how to swim before they came to our Y camps,” said Kendall Harris, YMCA of the Triangle community outreach director. “At the Y, we consider swimming a life skill. That’s why we incorporate daily swim lessons into our outreach camps.”

When David’s dad died suddenly last Thanksgiving, time in the pool proved to be a positive distraction.

“Where can I start? He comes alive in the water,” says Queen Arukwe, David’s mother. “David wants to be like Michael Phelps. He’s motivating his siblings in the pool too.”

David also motivates his teammates. Today, the 11-year-old is developing a strategy to guide his relay team to a victory.

“The first or last swimmer has to be a booster,” exclaims David to his team.

“You go first, David. You’re the best,” says another member of the Finley Y relay team.

On July 28, David joined more than 150 YMCA of the Triangle outreach campers who dove into the Third Annual Swim for Life Meet. The event provides an opportunity for campers from the Alexander, Cary, Durham, Kerr, Kraft and Finley YMCAs to show off their new skills in a competitive setting.

Swimmers competed in the breast stroke, back stroke, freestyle and butterfly. The YMCA branch with the most points earned top honors.

Organizers say winning isn’t the ultimate goal.

“Nearly 60 percent of African-American children can't swim,” said Anthony Hardison, Kerr Family YMCA community outreach director. “According to a USA Swimming study, white children are twice as likely to know how to swim. Our YMCA strives to break those barriers in the pool.”

David broke some meet records, won his heats, earned MVP honors and led the Finley swim team to an overall win.

“I wish my husband was here to see this,” said Queen with tears streaming down her face. “But, the kids know he’s proud of them.”

So are we. Remember the name. David Arukwe.

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.


  1. David is an incredible swimmer! We are so proud of him, and know his dad would be as well! Thanks for sharing his story!

  2. Am really proud of you. Just know that you are an inspiration to your siblings and a lot of other children. We will definitely remember that name!,,

  3. Queen, this is an awesome accomplishment for your son! You have instilled in him strength and motivation that will carry him through life, congratulations!

  4. Queen, I am so proud of what you have accomplished and what my baby David is doing. It takes incredible strength to do this and that strength comes from within. David is going places and the spirit of the Lord will continue to guide him and you to even higher accomplishments. He is already showing the leadership potential and the spirit of the champion that is who he is. Well done!

  5. Wow this is amazing. I'm so inspired. Way to go, David!