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Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.

From The New York Times:

Her Parents Thought Swimming Lessons Were a Good Idea

Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.…

Former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka

Good video about former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka


The kids are great! We have 5 WSI's and Regina, who last year at this time couldn't swim at all. The kids are divided into four groups, ranging from Level 1 - Level 4. I wish we had each group longer so we could make more of a difference with them. I'm not sure which is better- shotgun effect with trying to get more kids safe or keep them longer and only have half the children, but having them swim better.
The kids seem receptive to my "Words of the Day" and after the first day they seem excited to be here. One child was taken out due to behavior problems(at the camp, not here at the pool) and I asked that the swimming NOT be used as a carrot for them to behave better. This is a matter of life and death. The counselors know that now and understand. I am willing to withhold free time but not the lessons. But even free time is SO important to their learning.
I wish we could do this year round - we need the money to bubble over a pool so this can happen. ODU is interested in seeing what I am doing but having the programs so far away isn't going to help either.
We need pools, money, and transportation!

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Comment by Wanda Jean Butts on July 6, 2008 at 7:15am
Good Morning Leslie:
I applaud you for what you are doing and I say keep it up!! One thought: Here in Toledo in The Josh Project we keep our students until they are "water safe." It took a whole year for a few of our students and we are fortunate enough to be able to swim all year except for the month of August when the pool is closed for cleaning. How often are your students in class? Here we only have them for 30 minutes each Sunday but for that I am thankful. To God Be the GLORY!!!
Comment by Darrick Linton on July 6, 2008 at 6:50am
Top Of The Morning Leslie,
You are so right on the money, in that we do need pools, money, and I am so motivated about such a program in my area that I'd be willing to provide the transportation myself. I just have a strong desire to give back to our children what God has blessed me with, not just African Amrerican Children, but ALL CHILDREN, because I would really be interested in the stats of the 58% of African American Children that can't swim, what percentage of that comes from Rural America? I feel sorry for the kids here, because they have nothing to do!!! You know what happens, the Gangs are there to keep them busy, the Drug Dealers just love the fact that so much idle time is given to these kids, and our babies just keep on having babies........When does the madness stop?? The old adage was that "Are Children Are Going To The Dogs"...........Yeah, if we keep throwing them to em!!!!!!!!! We don't stand a chance, because the monies are here like they are in urban ciites. If I had the resources to have a pool built or just the know how in terms of getting started, both Planned Parenhood and our Local Police Department would love not only what I'd do with these children in terms of teaching them life skills aquatically, but those skills that they could use and employ in their everyday living, but their statistics would also decrease. My "Words Of The Day" would be just as important and exciting to them as swimming, because they'd be tested on these life changing statements daily. I love this blog Leslie, and I Thank God for all that have, are still continuing, and will continue to do to make a difference in the lives of children.

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