Kids at Asphalt Green
by the charismatic, triple gold-medal Olympic swimming champion,
Rowdy Gaines, and the entertaining MC-ing of Bill Evans, an ABC
News meteorologist, the Sixth Annual Big Swim was a “splashing”
The fundraising extravaganza was a part of Asphalt Green’s Big
Swim long weekend. This year the ever-popular event began on a
Saturday with the Big Swim, a free day of swim races for children,
ages 6 to 16 at the Aqua Center, Asphalt Green’s 50-meter, Olympic-sized
standard pool, the only one in New York City.
Each race participant was congratulated by a U.S. Olympian. Along
with Gaines, these Olympians included Mark Henderson, Kent Ferguson,
Mary-Ellen Clarke, David Fox and Anna Koslova. In addition, each
child took home a medal, a photo with the Olympians, a T-shirt,
a bag of goodies and, of course, memories of a great day.
is a great way of giving back to kids,” said Gaines, who has also
worked as a swim commentator during the last three Summer Olympics.
“We’re in a nice position to teach them how to be safe in the
water and how to enjoy all the benefits that swimming can offer.”
Asphalt Green, a not-for profit organization, created the Big
Swim in 1996 to give kids who might not otherwise have the chance
an opportunity to compete in an organized swimming event. And
so far, over 700 kids have taken advantage of the opportunity.
In fact, Evans’ children have been in the program since infancy.
“My kids learned to swim here,” he said. “As a parent, I couldn’t
be any more pleased with what they’ve done for my kids. They are
now prepared for a lifetime of water activity. Whenever we go
on vacation, I’m now totally confident they can handle themselves.”
Community service is at the core of Asphalt Green’s programming.
One of its main components is the “Waterproofing” program, a partnership
with the New York City Public Schools which teaches children how
to swim and be safe in the water. Over a series of ten visits
to Asphalt Green’s pool, students in the third and fourth grade
learn proper swimming techniques and safety skills. Since the
program began in 1993, over 8000 children have been “waterproofed.”
Green is about a lot more than just teaching kids how to swim,”
explained Gaines. “It’s looking into a kid’s eye and saying you
care. It’s teaching kids self-confidence and how to believe in
themselves. It also teaches them about teamwork and mutual respect.”
The Big Swim is one activity in a weekend of fundraising for the
Waterproofing program. This year’s benefit, that included the
Dinner Dance and Aqua Show, honored Henry J. Stern, the New York
City Commissioner of Parks and Recreation.
The funky Aqua Show had Olympians swimming with children to rock
songs like “Jailhouse Rock,” “Monster Mash” and “Surfin’ USA.”
was so much fun,” said Malaika, a participating fifth-grader.
“It was really cool with all the lights and the music and our
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