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In response to pandemic, City Swim Project growing in and out of the pool

Avery Schneider
Children from the City of Buffalo and its schools swim at the William-Emslie YMCA as part of the Buffalo City Swim Racers, now known as City Swim Project.

The Buffalo City Swim Racers program has relaunched with a new name and website to encompass its growing activities, now known as City Swim Project.

Executive Director Mike Switalski said what began as an effort to offer competitive swimming to underserved communities has expanded to include out-of-water education.

“We kind of stand out a little bit in the world of USA Swimming on all levels,” Switalski said. “And the fact that we’ve been able to create a program that not just offers the learn-to-swim and the competitive swim piece, but essentially workforce development and other opportunities. We’re working right now on out-of-pool programming, with academic development and things like that.”

The program is also one-of-a-kind in its mission of diversity and inclusion, according to Switalski.

“Based on our numbers from 2019,” he said, “4.5% of all of the Black and African-American swimmers identifying with USA Swimming were in our program.”

Before the pandemic, City Swim Project projected well over 400 participants, up from 362 in 2019.

Not having been pools since March, the organization is now focusing its efforts on academic support, nutrition education, and building partnerships with other community organizations.

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