More than 1,000 kids from across New York City are expected to participate in the 19th annual event, which includes a free swim meet and an exhibition by elite swimmers. Funds raised during a benefit luncheon will go towards teaching children in low-income communities how to swim.
Participants will have a chance to meet Olympic swimmers Rowdy Gaines and Jessica Hardy, while synchronized swimmers, divers and members of Asphalt Green’s competitive swim team AGUA put on an exhibition.
After the exhibition, kids ages 6 to 12 will be invited to participate in a swim meet or play games on Asphalt Green’s fields. All swimmers will receive a medal to commemorate the event.
Funds raised from the Big Swim will support Asphalt Green’s Fit Kids, Fit City campaign, which aims to introduce 30,000 children each year to a healthy lifestyle. A signature part of the campaign is the Waterproofing program, which offers free, yearlong swim classes to public school students.
Waterproofing was founded in 1994 to combat child drowning in New York City, especially in minority communities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black children between the ages of 5 and 14 are three times more likely to drown than white children of the same age range. In addition, a 2010 survey by the USA Swimming Foundation indicated that about 70 percent of black and 58 percent of Hispanic children have no or only a low ability to swim.
In the past year, the Waterproofing program has helped 2,200 kids from 37 different schools learn how to swim, according to a statement from Asphalt Green. Many graduates of the program will take part in Saturday’s swim meet.
The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Asphalt Green's Aqua Center, located at 1750 York Ave., at 91st Street.