Local Sigma Gamma Rho chapter teaching children swimming safety

"I'm usually always scared of water, because I see people drown and die, but after swimming lessons, I have a different point of view about swimming," 10-year-old Ilyse Redd said.
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Splash Bash hosted in Dublin
Dublin Swimming

DUBLIN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Summer means it’s time to break out the swim suits and get into the water.

Before you do so, the Nu Xi Sigma Chapter of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority wants to make sure you know how to swim.

For more than 10 years, the sorority has partnered with USA Swim for an initiative called ‘Swim 1922.’ It’s an initiative that was started to give knowledge and access to minority children.

The Nu Xi Sigma Chapter wanted to bring that to the Dublin community in a free event they held recently called ‘Splash Bash.’

More than 100 children attended and got immersed in the importance of swimming safety while also having fun.

Ilyse Redd is a 10-year-old who doesn’t know how to swim.

“I’m usually always scared of water, because I see people drown and die,” Redd said. “But after swimming lessons, I have a different point of view about swimming.”

Like many other children, Redd is experiencing swimming for the first time.

However, her fear of water is not uncommon.

“When we first started this initiative over 10 years ago, it was a 70% rate of African American children, minority children who didn’t know how to swim,” Nu Xi Sigma president Jakimya Martin said. “Now we have that down to 64%.”

Martin says she wanted to help immerse more students into swimming this summer with the hope of minimizing drownings.

Martin says the lessons start off slow and slowly progress.

“We start with them holding against the outsides of the pools where we’re teaching them how to kick,’ she said. “We then go on the strokes. How do you do an appropriate stroke? Then we start putting it together and getting them off the wall and into the water.”

This year, the chapter had the help of Maritza McClendon, a 2004 Olympian. The children learned about her journey in the sport of swimming.

McClendon says seeing smiles on the children’s faces and their eagerness to learn is amazing.

“We know they’re not going to be 100% comfortable after today,” McClendon said. “But it’s about the introduction and starting that conversation.  They walk away here today with the resources they need to continue on.”

 

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