In this interview, Miriam Lynch, Director of Operations for Diversity in Aquatics gives readers an extensive view of this wonderful organization, the benefits of membership and the critical importance of swimming.
Q1--Please explain the mission of Diversity in Aquatics: Why was it founded and what has been accomplished so far?
A. The mission of Diversity in Aquatics is to decrease the rate of drowning worldwide by helping to create, promote and support programs in the US and abroad. Founded by Shaun Anderson and Jayson Jackson, Diversity in Aquatic Programs or DAP is an organization that serves as a medium for its diverse network of members to interact and share events, news, and research promoting diversity within the aquatic community and curving drowning disparities. The organization’s website, (www.diversityinaquatics.com) serves as a forum for members to exchange relevant news, teaching aids and events involving the promotion of water safety and diversity within the aquatic community.
Since its founding, DAP has been able to bring together a myriad of organizations together ranging from non-profits to major National Governing Bodies, like USA Swimming and USA Rowing, with individuals from around the world to create a network of more than 1,300 people in more than 45 countries worldwide who are working towards reducing the rate of drowning worldwide. With the help of the DAP network, programs and individuals have been able to share their message and serve as a source of guidance and inspiration for other up and coming programs in order to spread the word about water safety to all.
Summary of Diversity in Aquatics Program Highlights
- Currently has a network of over 1300 members worldwide who are investing in the community to create effective and positive programs to drive change in the drowning statistics for the communities in which they live and work.
- As quoted from USA Swimming, one of the leading National Governing Body for Sports on Diversity described Diversity in Aquatics as “ a positive and profound impact on our sport’s diversity and water safety efforts”
- With its network of 1,300 members, DAP created International Water Safety Day which has helped to increase awareness for drowning prevention and water safety education held annually on May 15th
- Creation of the Diversity in Aquatics Convention where aquatic leaders from across the world can come together to work on tools and solutions for the prevention of drowning and the sustainment of current aquatic programs.
Q2.--Why is learning to swim so important?
A. With the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reporting that “drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years, and the fifth leading cause for people of all ages” while “minority children ages 5 to 14 have a drowning rate five times that of their white counterparts.” Diversity in Aquatics is an organization that believes that we can change the proverbial tide and not accepts another preventable loss of the next generation of leaders, scholars, family and friends through education on Water Safety.
A. There are so many different stereotypes that need to be addressed when it comes to aquatics. During slavery and segregation water was used as a fear tactic. People need to understand that African Americans and Hispanics have a history of being great swimmers.
At Diversity in Aquatics we feel that important to show that and spread the word about the history of us as swimmers and showcase those who are making a difference to change the statistics. That’s why we have our website and the images submitted by members show us in different aquatic environments to address those stereotypes. Nowhere else do you see a website showcasing and breaking down the stereotypes like issues with hair and that we are not afraid of the water. In those images you see all types of beautiful faces and aquatic sports being enjoyed by all.
Q4--How can parents and their kids become members of your organization: what are the different categories and what are the benefits of joining?
A. Our organization is free to anyone who would like to join. They just have to go to www.diversityinaquatics.com and make themselves a profile explaining their aquatic interest and begin connecting with others who have a similar aquatic interest.
The website has a wealth of information all in one place. It has featured videos, articles, event details and more of what is happening across the world in aquatics. We have a lot of people use it to connect with others to put on aquatic events and even form partnerships.
Q5--Can you give any stats as to what areas of the country have more members and why?
A. The great thing about Diversity in Aquatics is that we have members in each of the 50 states, plus the US territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We even have people check out our site from Russia! We love that people from all over the world are members and use our site as a resource for their aquatic interest.
Q6--Can you discuss the different regional and recreational events sponsored by your organization?
A. International Water Safety Day is a part of Diversity in Aquatics. This was our 3rd year of celebrating and bringing awareness to water safety through this event. It has been a part of a congressional record. Last year we had an opportunity to present in front of congress to bring awareness to water safety efforts by different organizations and then this year we had an opportunity to present to 5000 kids at 15 different schools in St. Croix. Our other event is the Diversity in Aquatics Convention. This is our 2nd year having the event and it gives our members and those involved with the aquatic community to come together to address the needs in their community while sharing best practices in aquatics.
Here are two clips about both of our events.
A. Yes, we think they have made a huge difference and maybe even bigger because of the message and the work they have done with drowning prevention. Athletes like those mentioned and Maritza Correia McClendon are great role models. Not only are they getting more kids to participate in the sport but also helping them and parents understand that they are learning a life saving skill.
Q8--For kids interested in competing at the Olympic level, what should parents do to assist their kids? Can you give specific suggestions as to where to begin?
A. Everyone’s path to the Olympics is different, but what is common is the support the person has from family and friends. It takes a lot of hard work to be one of the best. There are a lot of ups and downs but if you love it and have a great support network it helps for you to keep it going even through the difficult times.
Q9--For kids looking to pursue careers in the Coast Guard, or any other field that requires extensive swimming, can you share any specific suggestions?
A. Ask questions. If you are interested in perusing a career in the Navy Seals or Coast Guard ask someone who is from that field about how they got to be where they are now. The wonderful thing about the Diversity in Aquatics network is that we have a number of different people from various occupations who you can connect to by just sending them a message. You will find out there are so many opportunities out there involving aquatics and some even have opportunities at the Jr. levels through camps and job training opportunities.
For readers interested in joining Diversity in Aquatics, please visit their website at www.diversityinaquatics.com.