By Melynda Wilcox, vice-chair, Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics
Recently I had a chance to chat with three members of the Chinquapin Wahoos, which is the only public summer swim team in the city of Alexandria. The Wahoos just completed another successful season, after moving up to a more competitive division in the Colonial Swim League following their 2013 Gold Division Championship season.
What do Dylan G., Lutfi L. and Luis T. have in common other than their love of swimming? All three took swim lessons as young children at Chinquapin through the city’s recreation program. Lutfi says, “I started swim classes as a baby, and I’ve never been afraid of the water.” Dylan was six-years-old and Luis was about eight-years-old when they took their first swim lessons.
Dylan, Lutfi and Luis all told me that learning to swim was very important to their parents, and they are grateful to their parents for giving them that opportunity. Lutfi says that “swimming is good exercise, builds stamina, and allows you to make new friends.” Dylan, who also swims for the T.C. Williams Swim & Dive team, adds that it’s an important life skill that all kids should have. “You can’t go to the ocean if you can’t swim.” And Luis, who graduated in June from T.C. and also swam for the Titans, is working as a lifeguard this summer and looking forward to participating in intramural swimming in college.
Swim classes at Chinquapin are so popular that the city cannot accommodate all of the families seeking lessons. That’s one reason why the proposed new 50-meter pool at Chinquapin is so badly needed. If there was more “water” available at key times of the day and week, more classes and programs could be offered, and more children in Alexandria would be learning to swim.