The Joy Of Swimming, Shared

photo of children packing boxes of goggles
photo of children loading boxes of goggles into a van

photo of children wearing goggles

Spotlight is a monthly feature in AQUA magazine that takes a brief look at an innovative product, project or whatever catches our eye. This month, we see take a look at the Goggles for Guppies program. 

Read this story and feel good about young people and the future of the country. It’s the tale of two boys, both excellent swimmers, who are bringing the joy of swimming to kids who can’t afford it:

Chris and Matt Hales were down in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for the North American Challenge Cup, putting in their laps, preparing to compete, when they noticed a group of school children watching them. It soon became evident that none of these kids could swim.

Many of us have such moments of clarity and awareness of our fellow man from time to time. Most of us shrug our shoulders; the Hales brothers lowered theirs.

Back home in the states, the boys began educating themselves on the problem. They saw the statistics on accidental drowning and learned that most childhood drowning victims come from households where the financial resources to support swimming are scarce. They put two and two together, and according to Matt, “figured that more children would be given the chance to learn to swim if they didn’t have to pay for suits, caps and goggles.”

They started getting in touch with people who had equipment to donate and people who could really use it — turns out there was a genuine need there, all along. It just took a couple of young boys to find it.

In a relatively short time, the brothers established their non-profit company as the connection between charitable manufacturers and retailers, and potential swimmers short of equipment. A year ago, the organization became an affiliate of USA Swimming’s Make a Splash coalition as the official distributor of swim equipment for Make a Splash.

The boys, now 14, feel good about the work they’ve done.

“The biggest rewards are the thank you letters we receive along with the pictures of kids with their new caps, goggles and swimsuits,” Chris says. “It was wonderful to get a Facebook post from a swim club in Louisiana whose members had lost their swim equipment in Hurricane Isaac, and we received a great email and picture from the father of a four year old who has cancer who couldn’t stop running around the house with his new goggles. We also heard back from the best friend of a 17-year-old drowning victim who established a learn-to-swim program in his memory.”

To learn more about Goggles For Guppies, go to gogglesforguppies.org

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