USA Swimming has launched the ?Make A
Splash? campaign, with the ambitious goals of
tackling minority drowning, aquatic diversity and childhood
?What we?re doing is scouring the
country for [cities] that have poorly programmed and
underutilized facilities, and we connect them to our
specialists here to ? create programs to activate
those facilities,? said John Cruzat, diversity
specialist at USA Swimming in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Make a Splash is working to connect kids to those
programs, talking with schools and local governments about
drowning and obesity statistics. Its target audience: The 2
percent of the organization?s membership that
represents minority populations.
The program also emphasizes swimming as a healthy way to
reduce children?s risk for more than 30
obesity-related diseases. According to USA Swimming, the
percentage of overweight young people has more than tripled
since 1980, and 31 percent of U.S. children are overweight
or at risk of becoming overweight.
The campaign is heavily promoting the recently released
movie ?Pride,? starring Terrence Howard and
Bernie Mac, about how schoolteacher Jim Ellis formed a
black swim team in one of Philadelphia?s roughest
neighborhoods in the 1970s. Ellis, a USA Swimming coach,
serves as national campaign spokesperson with five-time
Olympic medalist Janet Evans.
?When I first began coaching at the Philadelphia
Department of Recreation, we gave kids the opportunity to
try ... a sport they didn?t have the opportunity to
experience on their own,? Ellis said. ?Now,
through the Make a Splash program, everyone has the
opportunity to make a difference.?
Make a Splash partnered with YMCAs, Boys & Girls
clubs, Discovery Education, Lionsgate (producer of
?Pride?) and Speedo.
Lionsgate hosted pre-premiere screenings in swimming
communities across the country, and Speedo is providing
free kickboards, swimwear and goggles. Discovery Education
is helping distribute water safety educational materials to
teachers and PTAs in 25,000 schools nationwide this
In addition, Make a Splash?s Web site recognizes
local swimming heroes in coaching, educating or lifesaving.
Heroes can be nominated by the general public. Such heroes
include three-time Olympian Gary Hall Jr. and 6-year-old
Hannah Bernui from Tennessee, who saved a soccer teammate
The end-of-year goal is to get three metro areas
Detroit, Miami and Oakland, Calif. up
and running. Meanwhile, the campaign has made significant
headway in Atlanta with a program that will teach 1,000
children to swim through the Boys & Girls Club.
The program?s guidelines for swim lessons
include a minimum of 16 sessions at 45 minutes each, to
teach children the four strokes. This positions them for
pre-competition and qualifies them for scholarships at
local swim clubs. For more information, visit