| Wednesday, February 8, 2017
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Swimming and Sigma Gamma Rho announced a multi-year extension of their successful partnership to prevent drowning and increase swim participation within the African American community.
The two organizations will advance their efforts to increase awareness about water safety, the need for swim lessons and participation in swimming at a community-based level. Members of Sigma Gamma Rho will continue to promote participation in communities across the country through in-water safety events, workshops and fitness swimming.
With 500 nationwide chapters, the sorority hosts informational ‘Swimming in the Deep’ seminars and conducts a variety of swim events across the country with Olympian and SGRho member Maritza McClendon. Swim 1922 has provided the women of Sigma Gamma Rho opportunities to experience swimming at all levels, with learn to swim clinics, behind the scenes access at national championship events and meet and greets with top U.S. swimmers. Last year, the sorority hosted 100 swimming events nationwide, logged in over 1,000 hours of community service hours related to swimming, with 2,500 swim lessons completed and 500,000 laps swam.
"Sigma Gamma Rho is proud to continue its innovative partnership with USA Swimming as we save lives through our Swim 1922 campaign,” said Deborah Catchings-Smith, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority International President. “We are continuing our mission of introducing the importance of learning how to swim to thousands of people across the nation by sharing drowning prevention information and resources with children and families throughout our communities.”
In October, senior leadership of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority visited Colorado Springs to meet with USA Swimming’s Executive staff to discuss the growth of the Swim 1922 partnership. Over the next quad, SGRho pledges to increase its member participation in the partnership by 20%, provide 22 annual swim scholarships, create a Swim 1922 Public Service Announcement and host a Swim 1922 Swim Safety Day. As part of the visit, the sorority generously donated $1,922 dollars to the USA Swimming Foundation as a commitment to learn to swim programming. The consistent “1922” or “22” references are a tribute to their founding year of 1922 at Butler University in Indianapolis and they keep that numeric theme in many of their efforts.
“Sigma Gamma Rho has embraced the mission to make this one of the most impactful partnerships we’ve done at USA Swimming,” said Chuck Wielgus, President & CEO of USA Swimming. “Their hard work and commitment has demonstrated the importance of swimming and changed the lives of countless people across the country.”
Sigma Gamma Rho currently boasts two Olympians in its sisterhood. Olympic silver medalist Maritza Correia McClendon, who in 2004 became the first black female swimmer to make the U.S. Olympic team and Jamaican Olympian and world record-holder Alia Atkinson, who became the first black woman to earn a world swimming title, with her 100-meter breaststroke title at the 2014 FINA Short Course World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
“We have an important message to spread about water safety and learning to swimming and this partnership allows us to have a major impact in the communities that need it the most,” said Maritza Correia McClendon, Swim 1922 Spokesperson. “Coming off a history making Olympic year with Simone's [Manual’s] gold medal, it's even more important we build upon the excitement she has brought to the sport within the black community. I'm honored to spread the word and offer inspiration to the current and next generations.”
The combined efforts of the unique partnership have inspired the Sigma Gamma Rho sisterhood to share their enthusiasm for the sport and commit to opening more avenues to diversify the sport of swimming. For more information about the Swim 1922 partnership, visit: sftest.usaswimming.org/swim1922.