The sport of swimming has long had the reputation for being a country club sport lacking in diversity. However, over the years, teams led by passionate coaches have been working to change that. Here, we honor just a few of the many shining programs that are working to make swimming available to everyone.
Pride, Determination, Resilience
As the subject of the biopic Pride, Jim Ellis received well-deserved recognition not only for his coaching accomplishments, but also the struggles that accompanied his pilgrimage to develop the talent of Philadelphia's first all African-American swim team. At the time the movie was released, Ellis had coached swimmers to Olympic Trials every quad since 1992. Unfortunately, not long after the film was released, the pool Ellis' team trained out of was shut down.
Without sufficient community funds and support to re-open the pool, Ellis became absent on the pool deck. However, Ellis and his team, Pride, Determination, Resilience (PDR), has been given a second chance with a second pool funded by the Salvation Army. Now, Ellis, living up to the name of his former team, is back in action and ready to continue his tradition of producing fast swimmers.
The Oakland Undercurrents
The Oakland Undercurrents is not just your average swim team. The team provides free and low-cost aquatic programs for the citizens of Oakland. The team, represented by more than 22 ethnicities, has enjoyed its tenth year of growth in a city where swimming is a non-traditional sport.
While the Undercurrents produce elite swimmers, evidenced by their Olympic Trials qualifiers, they are committed to fostering not only great swimmers, but also great people. The athletes are encouraged to participate in a monthly service activity. The coaches of the Undercurrents believe the life skills taught in the water give young people the opportunity to realize their potential both in and out of the water.
When the economy began to falter in the U.S., so did the city of Detroit. But as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. In this case, the tough went swimming. While some of the country's best swimmers have trained close to Detroit at the University of Michigan, swimming was not an accepted sport for local youth. However, four separate teams have joined together to change that.
With the help of USA Swimming, the Tiger Sharks Swim Team, Detroit Recreation Department, Razor Aquatics and Leroy Dues are transforming the city into a cornerstone for swimming. The clubs now cooperate to host swimming events, thereby encouraging the swimming community to recognize the city and its offerings. The swimming community listened, and offered its support.
Although setbacks continue to plague teams individually, as a whole, they have benefited from the collaboration with more community and financial support. Swimming, for the first time, is inching towards recognition as a traditional sport for the Motor City.
DC Wave Swim Team
The DC Wave Swim Team represents our nation's capital in more than one way. In a city full of legislation, these swimmers lay down the law in the pool. It is the only public swim team that is nationally competitive. The team aims to not only produce speedy swimmers, but to also enhance the profile DC through quality and affordable programs.