Emerald Swimmers Dive Into Summer

Emerald Youth’s summer swim team – the Emerald Force – is already making waves with a new swim coach and a lineup of swimmers raring to go.
About 45 kids attended a kick-off event at Ed Cothren Pool May 20. They met new head coach Justin Baxter, former swim coach at Bearden High School, and heard plans for the team’s eighth summer season.
“We are looking forward to a good season. We expect to have stronger swimmers this year,” said Dwayne Sanders, Emerald Youth sports director. “Justin thinks we can win a meet or two. We have at least four swimmers now who swim year-round.” He said that at present, Emerald can accommodate 50 swimmers on its team.
On Friday, June 6, Emerald Force hosted a meet for the first time – squaring off against the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tennessee Valley at 6 p.m. at Ed Cothren Pool. 
Emerald Force has a schedule of four regular meets plus the Smoky Mountain Invitational Meet July 13 and the City Swim Meet July 25.
As a competitive sport for kids, swimming receives high marks: it is low-injury, promotes fitness and helps prevent obesity, which afflicts about 40 percent of urban Knoxville youth. It is also an ideal lifelong sport. 
Emerald’s swim program also helps counter locally a terrible set of U.S. statistics. According to a USA Swimming Foundation study, about 70 percent of African-American children and 60 percent of Hispanic children are non-swimmers, and thus have a much higher rate of drowning than other children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that African-American children between the ages of 5 and 14 are almost three times more likely to drown than white children. 
But in Knoxville, programs like Emerald’s are creating a different picture. Last year, several Emerald swimmers went on to swim in the fall and winter with the Tennessee Aquatics competitive swim club. Additionally, Emerald leads more than 200 children to swim lessons each fall, spring and summer. Presently, children are taking lessons through the Learn to Swim program at the YWCA.
At the Ed Cothren pool, where the team practices, urban children are gaining proficiency at every competition stroke.