February 6, 2019

Grantee Spotlight: Buffalo City Swim Racers

As Project Play WNY reaches its one year milestone, we feel fortunate to partner with so many longstanding youth sport organizations in Western New York, and would like to share the good work of these organizations. Up first are the Buffalo City Swim Racers.

Founded by teacher and coach Mike Switalski, the Buffalo City Swim Racers’ goal is to ensure that all kids have the opportunity to learn to swim and be safe around the bodies of water that run through the city. Switalski shares startling data as to how few kids in the city of Buffalo know how to swim. These statistics feed into those at the national level where children of color between the ages of 5 to 14 are three times more likely to drown as a white child of the same age. Inspired to change this, the Swim Racers have expanded from one site in 2012 to more than five sites across the city serving more than 250 kids and 20 adults.

As a recipient of a 2018 Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Youth Sports Legacy Fund grant, the Swim Racers have completed a strategic planning and capacity building process.

“I think clubs and coaches need to have compassion and empathy for the challenges low-income families face on a daily basis,” Switalski said. “The majority of times, the families and children have the desire to swim but not the opportunity because of finances or transportation. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Fund grant will allow us to expand our outreach to include 1,500 city of Buffalo youth ages 5-18 and also to launch a more robust learn-to-swim program for adults.”

Buoyed with the knowledge that a child of color with a mother who does not know how to swim has only a 10 percent chance of learning to do so, the Swim Racers are focused on a five-year plan that will allow their impact to be felt throughout not only a family, but the larger WNY region as well.  You can find more information on the Buffalo City Swim Racers on their web site by clicking here.