Program provides college readiness support, competitive swimming skills for students of color
February 12, 2020 – Students from Central High School and W.E.B. DuBois Academy are diving into the Ali Stingrays Swimmer Scholar Program, which provides college readiness support and competitive swimming skills for students of color.
The two schools joined the program partners, Muhammad Ali Center and Trident Swim Foundation, this week to announce the pilot program. Since October, 10 Central students and 15 DuBois students, all of whom had little or no swimming ability, have received after-school academic support and competitive swim instruction at Central — Muhammad Ali’s alma mater — with the aim of preparing them to attend and graduate college and help reverse the starling drowning rates in African American communities. The program is also receiving support from ESPN, Inc.
“Central High School has always been about the business of creating equitable access for students that don’t typically have equitable access in unique spaces such as the swimming pool,” said Central Principal Raymond Green. “Our students already look up to Muhammad Ali as our school’s most famous alumnus, but in having the Ali Stingrays Program be at Central, there is expanded meaning in what defines the word ‘champion’— both as a swimmer and as a scholar.”
“At DuBois, we received overwhelming interest in the Ali Stingrays program from students and parents,” said Robert Gunn, principal of W.E.B. Academy. “Learning how to swim is an invaluable life skill and incorporates values shared by the Muhammad Ali Center and DuBois Academy’s P.R.I.D.E Values.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the drowning rate of African American children ages 5 to 14 is over three times that of white children in the same age range.
Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Float With Our Butterfly, Sting With Our Free,” students cheered the announcement before changing into swim suits and demonstrating their swimming skills.
“I have friends that I can swim with now, because you don’t see a lot of black people that can swim,” said Central Stingray participant Harry Mask, before motioning to fellow swimmers on both sides of her. “But I got some right here and I got some right here.”