Courtesy: UNC Asheville Athletics
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Swimming is a favorite activity for many people across the country. Whether it’s at a pool or lake, many people find swimming to be one of the best ways to spend a day. Unlike most activities, however, swimming is also a skill that can be used to help in more serious circumstances.
The skill of being able to swim is not as universal as one may think. A study released in May 2022 shows that 17 percent, or nearly one in five Americans, don’t know how to swim. This is particularly true in underserved communities as many do not have access to a pool.
UNC Asheville Assistant Swimming & Diving Coach Ian Quinn learned that fact in 2020 when he attended a community gathering at the Hillcrest Apartment Complex in Asheville.
“I talked to some people there and several of them told me they don’t have a pool to swim in, and they very rarely get any pool time to potentially learn how,” Quinn said. “I looked a little more into it and learned for many it was a generational issue. Meaning, if your parents don’t know how to swim, your grandparents don’t know how to either, then the next generation would likely follow that trend.”
With this in mind, an idea was formed to have the UNC Asheville swimming & diving team help teach local kids how to swim who normally would not get the chance.
The Bulldogs partnered with Youth Transformed for Life (YTL), a local organization in our community. None of this is possible without Janell Lassiter, the YTL Director of Programming.
“It’s been a lot of moving pieces and months of work to get this process started, but extremely rewarding,” added Quinn. “We are very excited to have the kids from YTL because I believe we can make a really big impact in their lives and within our community.”
A program like this needs help from many different places to get started. Multiple people in the athletic department, campus recreation and at UNC Asheville have helped along with some community support. One of the key contributors has been Sunshine Chevrolet. With financial assistance from the dealership and its point person Kristy Elliott, the Bulldogs have been able to pay for lifeguards and buy a swim cap and goggles for every child.
“We are very thankful for the support we have received so far,” said Quinn. “Our long-term goal is to set up lessons in the spring in preparation for the summer months, when most people do their swimming, to teach more in-depth skills so they can have a happy, fun, and safe summer in the water. As long as there is a need, and there is here in Asheville, our team would like to keep giving the lessons to help our community.”