Sigma Gamma Rho International President Joann Loveless (left) and USA Swimming’s Talia Mark, Multicultural Marketing Manager for USA Swimming, signing the partnership agreement. Photo by Glenn A. Loveless.
On Saturday, July 14, at Sigma Gamma Rho’s biennial Boule celebration in New Orleans, La., USA Swimming representatives announced its new partnership with the historically black sorority. The effort is part of USA Swimming’s SwimToday campaign, a national recruiting effort aimed at arming parents with the information and resources they need to get their children involved in the sport for its health and safety benefits.
A first of its kind for both Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and USA Swimming, this partnership will accomplish the following:
1) Make water safety education and learn to swim programs a part of the sorority’s mandatory member curriculum and community service outreach beginning this fall.
2) Provide an easy entry into the sport of swimming through the sorority’s more than 100,000 members and 500 chapters across the United States.
3) Make water safety a mandatory part of their Rhoer Curriculum as well as part of their youth symposium and Project Reassurance teachings.
Under the terms of the newfound partnership, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. will function as an extension of USA Swimming’s online SwimToday.org platform, which provides the tools, resources and information that individuals of all ages need to learn to swim, find a learn to swim or competitive swim program, meet their fitness goals and be active in the sport. Visit www.swimtoday.org to view these resources.
“Our new partnership with USA Swimming is a perfect fit within Sigma Gamma Rho’s ongoing efforts to safeguard our youth through our Project Reassurance umbrella theme of Healthy Choices, Healthy Living, Healthy Generations,” says Joann Loveless, International President of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. “Research shows that youth who participate in sports experience a multitude of benefits such as: an increase in discipline, lower teenage pregnancy rates, better grades and higher self-esteem. This collaboration with USA Swimming provides our sisterhood the opportunity to promote these ideals within the local communities of each of our chapters through water safety education and childhood swimming lessons.”
By providing Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. chapters with resources and support to aid in educating its members on a local, regional and national level, USA Swimming hopes to educate the Sigma Gamma Rho community on the benefits of and opportunities available within the sport of swimming. This fall, USA Swimming and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. will also develop a sorority-specific call-to-action initiative that will focus on highlighting water safety on the grassroots level within their chapters’ communities.
“Partnering with Sigma Gamma Rho offers us the opportunity to reach thousands of families across the nation, and to provide them with a simple entry point into the sport of swimming.” said Matt Farrell, USA Swimming’s Chief Marketing Officer. “By empowering individuals with the resources they need to get their kids started in the sport, we are, helping keep kids safer around the water while opening the door to a beneficial and life-long fitness activity. With all eyes on the pool in London, we also hope that partnerships like this one will help diversify our sport, and increase participation by a historically underrepresented group.”
2012 marks a historic year for USA Swimming as the U.S. Team has never had more than a single team member of African-American descent and none before the 2000 Sydney Games. This year’s London-bound Olympians of African-American descent include veterans Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin who are returning gold medalists from 2008 and 2000, respectively, and newcomer Lia Neal who, at 17, is the second African-American woman to ever make a U.S. Olympic Swim Team and the first since Olympic Silver Medalist Maritza Correia in 2004. Lia Neal, who is also half Chinese-American, joins a winning legacy of Asian-American women Olympic swimmers like Evelyn Kawamoto (two-time bronze medalist at 1952 Helsinki games), Catherine Fox (two-time gold medalist at 1996 Atlanta games), and Natalie Coughlin, who is returning to London for her third Olympics and is an 11-time Olympic medalist. Nathan Adrian, who is Chinese-American, will also swim for the U.S. again in London having already claimed Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008.
“With the ever-increasing diversity of the sport on the world stage, it is of the utmost importance for USA Swimming to play a proactive role in helping kids become safer around the water as well as to provide opportunities for them to excel both as a team and as individuals,” said Talia Mark, Multicultural Marketing Manager for USA Swimming. “With all eyes on the pool in London, we hope to inspire kids of all backgrounds to get involved in the sport, this is where we believe Sigma Gamma Rho’s expertise in community outreach can play an integral role.”
Throughout 2012 and beyond, USA Swimming looks to continue to expand the reach of the important message of water safety education and learn to swim programs, as well as the benefits of swimming for health and fitness, and increase the accessibility of competitive swimming programs through its SwimToday.org campaign and partnerships like this one with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
For more information about getting involved with USA Swimming, to learn to swim, to join a competitive swim team or to swim for health and fitness, please visit http://www.swimtoday.org.