By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent
Everywhere you look, there are people and organizations coming together to lower drowning rates among minority swimmers. Today we highlight the National Black Heritage Championship swim meet.
This past weekend was scene to the 9th Annual National Black Heritage Championship swim meet, an event typically held every Memorial Day. The event was held to bring together minorities in the sport of swimming, to lower drowning rates among minority swimmers, and to motivate minority swimmers to continue to swim competitively.
Over 900 swimmers attended the event in North Carolina.
“Swimming is one of those sports that you don't see a lot of African-American kids. So to see a pool full of them is just a wonderful sight," said the spouse of a swim coach who attended the event, according to the News Observer. Read the full article here.
The meet also hosts a community breakfast fundraiser, which helps raise money needed to put on the swim meet, as well as to help with lessons and clinics. In addition, there is a parents-coaches relay, as well as a kids’ party. Sabir Muhammad was the top-name swimmer attending the weekend’s gala, hosting a stroke clinic Friday night and a 50 freestyle exhibition Saturday morning.
This is exactly the type of event swimming needs. A fun, laid-back aquatic festival, bringing together kids of all backgrounds, ethnicities and races. To feature fun relay races, clinics, exhibitions, as well as a community breakfast in which kids, parents and coaches can come together outside of the pool is a valuable experience.
"It meant an opportunity to swim with people who look like me," Candace Cooper, a competitive swimmer at UNC-Chapel Hill, told the News Observer.
While many organizations attempt to raise awareness about minority drowning rates, the National Black Heritage Championship swim meet tries to fix it first-hand.
By inviting not just swimmers, but families, parents, coaches, siblings, aunts, uncles and everyone else, drowning awareness trickles back into their respective communities. Kids can see older brothers and sisters swimming with Olympians like Cullen Jones (who has attended the event in the past) and say to themselves, “This swimming thing is pretty cool.”
If you want to get involved with next year’s National Black Heritage Championship meet, you can go to their website at blackheritageswimming.org. The event has grown substantially throughout the years, from 104 swimmers in its first year to over 900 swimmers this past weekend.
Here’s to hoping events like this continue to survive -- raising awareness about drowning, giving back to the community and serving as a positive, fun aquatic festival.