Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

July 2019

Swim Clinic Teaches Water Safety Basics

Nearly 50 area youth and adults learned the basics of water safety recently at the Swim 1922 Clinic at the Boys & Girls Club at Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse in Brooklyn, N.Y. The clinic, led by 2004 Olympic silver medalist Maritza McClendon, was put on thanks to a partnership between USA Swimming and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and one of the oldest historically African-American sororities.

The Swim 1922 initiative is the first partnership of its kind with the intent to increase swim participation and decrease drowning rates in the African-American community. Sigma Gamma Rho members who did not know how to swim have since begun taking swimming lessons after learning the drowning is the second-leading cause of death in the United States and have pledged to encourage others to learn to swim.

"Swimming is the only sport that can save lives, and we continue to partner with USA Swimming to educate and inspire children and families to learn about water safety," said Deborah Catchings-Smith, international president of Sigma Gamma Rho. "We are honored to have the support of New York State Senator Kevin Parker in bringing swimming education to the New York Brooklyn and Queens Communities."

According to a 2017 study conducted by the University of Memphis and University of Nevada - Las Vegas, 64 percent of African-American, 45 percent of Hispanic/Latino and 40 percent of Caucasian children have little to no swimming ability. African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers and drowning is the second leading cause of childhood unintentional death for children under the age of 14. Formal swimming lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent.

"It's important to spread awareness of the importance to learn to swim, but also to make it a fun experience to learn and be inspired by an Olympic swimmer," McClendon said. "It's an absolute honor to be able to share my love for the sport of swimming and the importance of this life-saving skill."

All Swim 1922 clinics are put on free of charge to all participants and Sigma Gamma Rho sorority members. Another clinic was recently held in New Orleans. Find out more about the program at

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