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Kalamazoo College

Swim For Success


Swim for Success (SFS) is a swimming program for local children, which takes place on Kalamazoo College‚Äôs campus three evenings a week.  It is a partnership between the City of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo College and is led by Service-Learning Civic Engagement Scholars, Kevin Ewing and Mallory McClure. Over 20 K College students are involved as tutors or swim coaches in the program. Kevin and Mallory are both members of the college swim team and are also coaches in the SFS program. K College students also provide tutoring  onsite one hour before swimming lessons begin.

SFS3The 30 participants in the program are students in the Kalamazoo Public Schools who qualify for free and reduced lunch based on family income.  Many of the children are from El Sol Elementary where K College has an extensive service-learning partnership.  The majority of the participants are Hispanic or African American, two groups who traditionally have had limited opportunities to swimming lessons. This is a social justice issue that not only addresses inequities in access to the health and educational benefits inherent in knowing how to swim, but literally a matter of life and death.  According to USA Swimming, 70% of African-American children cannot swim, compared with nearly 60% for Hispanic children and 42% for white children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-American children between the ages of 5 and 14 are three times more likely to drown than white children in the same age range.

Through this partnership with the City of Kalamazoo, the K College students are a part of helping increase the number of Hispanic and African American children who know how to swim. At the same time the college students are learning more about the barriers that have historically prevented children of color from attaining this critical lifelong (and lifesaving) skill.

This program is made possible by a generous donation from area businessman, Marc Schupan.

Parents and Families interested in registering their children for Swim for Success: Please call the City of Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Office at 269.337.8191 for more information.

K College Students interested in participarting: Please contact Gus Guthrie and Lexi Ambs

Positions: Tutor (volunteer and federal work study positions available), Coach

Requirements for K Student Workers: Coaches are required to have some swimming knowledge (can be basic) and all participants are required to attend all orientations/training sessions and reflections (no more than 3 per quarter). Students are also expected to make and honor a weekly, quarter-long commitment to tutoring and/or coaching (commitment does not have to be for every day, but must be consistent).

Location: Kalamazoo College natatorium

Program Times: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 5:30-7:30 (Tutoring from 5:30-6:30, Swim lessons from 6:30-7:30).