Buffalo City Swim Racers (BCSR) is bucking a national trend. An article in ESPN’s TheUndefeated.com* spells out just how significant the inner city swim training organization has been when it comes to tackling issues of race, inclusiveness, health, safety, awareness, education and social justice.
Writer Martenzie Johnson recounts BCSR founder and head coach Mike Switalski’s early years as a lifeguard at an inner city pool, which is when he first realized that most of the kids couldn’t swim and needed to be routinely saved. From there we learn about the formations of the swim club, as well as Switalski’s steadfast dedication to the cause, which is now growing by leaps and bounds.
What the article didn’t mention, because it’s breaking news, is the newfound rapid pace of growth that the program is experiencing. Earlier this year, BCSR expanded its William Emslie YMCA (East Side) training practices to a second pool in South Buffalo (at Cazanovia), and is now planning on adding on a third pool at D’Youville College this fall. This is incredible news for a swim club that has battled the odds and continues to make waves in the community, and throughout the country. These types of initiatives not only save lives, they also help young people to understand and appreciate the opportunities that have been made available to them. Ultimately that translates into life lessons, and advancements in the realm of education.
Give a child a splash pad, and that child will have fun and keep cool throughout the summer. It won’t be long before that child outgrows the splash pad. Teach a child to swim, and every body of water becomes an adventure (pool or lake) for the rest of his or her life. Now that’s something to think about.
Not to mention the timeliness with swimmer Simone Manuel at the Rio Summer Olympics. Manuel is the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming medal at any Olympic Games. Another role model is born, which will most likely result in an upswell of interest from young African-American swimmers for years to come. Thankfully BCSR will be able to accommodate the swimmers, which would not be the case if it were not for the selflessness and fortitude of Mike Switalski, a real hometown hero.
*Sports stories and pertinent articles from an African American perspective