Native American Swim Clinic
OKLAHOMA CITY –They are the kids parents worry about near deep water, the ones who stay in the shallow end, the ones experts say are still 3 times more likely to drown because they haven’t ever learned to swim. “I want to thank you swimmers for coming,” announces swim coach Kathy Mendez.
It took Mendez, some top swimmers with the Chesapeake Swim Club, and more than 20 volunteers partnering with OKC Indian Health Services. All of them brought together more than a hundred Native American kids, many of whom had never touched water deeper than a bathtub. Mendez counted them up, “Our total is 116 kids today.”
They learned the basics, blowing bubbles, floating on your back. It’s not easy at first. Teacher Josh Lawson remembers learning to swim at age 12. He’s a Native American kid who was borderline diabetic. His parents brought him to the pool for exercise. Now he’s a top competitive swimmer. “I was really scared of the water,” he says.
Joey Roberts is another top athlete. Eastman Holloway, who’s quarter Creek and Cherokee, will go the the Olympic Swim Trials this summer. It’s been marked on his calendar for a couple of years. “June 25th and 9 o’clock.”
Manny Banks is a representative for USA Swimming in Colorado Springs. His organization helped sponsor this first ever Native American swim clinic not just to help save lives but to, perhaps, find someone special. “Our hope is that once kids learn how to swim that they eventually join competitive swim teams and then we can find the next Micheal Phelps.”
Part of learning to swim involves overcoming fear of the water. Giving someone that chance is a gift kids like this will take with them for the rest of their lives.The first day they get their feet wet.
Many of the signed up for free lessons. Organizers hope to get enough children interested in watching a special Native American swim meet in February.