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Breaking a generational cycle: City Swim project making swim lesson accessible to the Buffalo Community

City Swim project
Posted at 10:32 PM, May 24, 2023

BUFFALO N.Y. (WKBW) — The summer sun is on its way and that means pools days are right around the corner. City Swim Project is working with the Buffalo community to make sure each kid wanting to make a splash this summer is as safe as possible.

Pierson and Aaliyah are competition swimmers with City Swim Project. This dynamic duo has been swimming together since they were six years old.

Aaliyah and Pierson

"Swimming together it means that we have a larger camaraderie and a deeper connection no matter what the bad day is or whatever the good day is," Pierson said. "We still find a way to make it fun."

Starting out practice with a few laughs and then it's time to handle business. The two compete side by side and consider their teammates their family.

"For me, it's seeing the people you know my teammates," Aaliyah shared.

Pierson expressed that swimming is not just a sport for them it's an escape.

"For someone who feels like there's lots going on there's so much to think about it's all gone the second I hit the water," he said.

Aaliyah's grandmother, Glenda Martin, said teaching Aaliyah how to swim has put her mind at ease in many ways.

Aaliyah's grandmother cheering the competition team on as they finish up their warm ups for the day.

"I don't know anyone who does not know someone close to them that has died of an accidental drowning," Martin said.

Heartbreaking is how she described the lack of access to swimming lessons and pools here in Buffalo.

"The incidents," she said shaking her head. "The statistics they are just devastating. They're alarming."

According to the CDC, kids ages one to four die from drowning more than any other cause of death. While for children ages 5 to 14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death.

"We have to break the generational cycle," Executive Director for City Swim Project Michael Switalski said.

Coach Michael Switalski

He said with Western New York being surrounded by water and summer right around the corner it is crucial to teach the kids of the community how to swim.

Child Safety Network stated that minority communities have a higher drowning rate than their white counterparts. Switalski said this fact is a driving force for him and his organization to increase access to swim lessons for everyone.

Swimmer dives from one of the medium level swim groups with City Swim Project

"It's the only sport that if you know how to do it can save your life," he shared.

The red caps are the beginner swimmers - they started practice with a game of splash red light green light.

City Swim Projects offer swim lessons to kids ages 5 to 18 and even adults. If you are interested in lessons please visit this website.