The Great Relay West Coast

The Great Relay West Coast

The Great Relay West Coast

Courtesy of the Trident Swim Foundation, Los Angeles, California.

There are 5 km team trial relays held at the FINA World Championships around the world.

But there are few team trial relays like the Great Relays held in Los Angeles and New York. Unlike the FINA relays where 4 swimmers each swim 1.25 km loops, The Great Relay requires everyone to swim the 5,000 distance.

This weekend on October 12th at the ​Culver City Plunge in Southern California and on November 23red at the Dodge Fitness Center on the Columbia University campus in New York, teams of 8 or more swimmers compete in The Great Relay.

The event is billed as the biggest, longest pool-based relay competition in the United States where the swimmers each swim 5,000 yards or meters. The Great Relay supports the Trident Swim Foundation’s Swimmer Scholar Program and supports community-based athletic and academic programs to underserved communities in the inner city.

The 2019 Great Relay events will be hosted in Los Angeles and in New York City.

West Coast Executive Director Patrick Bridges explains their goals, “The Trident Swim Foundation’s Swimmer Scholar program is designed for students to succeed long after they graduate from the program. The three core principles of the program are Discipline, Self-confidence, and Teamwork.

Discipline – Attendance at after school study sessions and structured swim practice is mandatory for our Swimmer Scholars. Students learn to reap the rewards and understand the necessity of hard work in and out of the pool.

Self-confidence – As Swimmer Scholars develop athletic and academic competence, they begin to understand their abilities and strengths better to redefine their limits.

Teamwork – Swimmer Scholars learn to support the goals of their teammates in the pool and the classroom by collaborating in relays during swim meets and participating in active learning forums during the study hall sessions

Marathon swimmer Amy Dantzler talked about her local (Los Angeles) Trident Swimmer Scholars – 30 kids who swim at 6 am before going to school. “Most took the bus to get to the pool. The kids participating in the program have achieved 100% high school graduation, 100% college acceptance and an average 340 point SAT improvement.”

Teammate Mel Latt said, “For the past several years I have participated in this extraordinary event. The Trident swim foundation provides swimming instruction and teams, SAT/ACT prep, as well as subject tutoring, college prep and advising to students who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Many of these kids get up in the wee hours of the morning to grab a bus to get to their morning swim practice. Then they go to school and often head to tutoring after school sessions to ensure their academic success. Many of our kids take their sports, tutoring and extracurricular activities for granted – these kids are beyond grateful. To say it is inspiring does not give it justice. I guarantee I will shed a tear tomorrow as I hear them speak.”

And the ubiquitous Bill Ireland added, “We were lucky on the day of the event – warm sunshine and better quality air than earlier, despite the fires. The relay was well-run and fun. People were trying to swim fast, but it was all about having fun and not about trying to win – of course my relay finished 8th of 8 so the 7 who finished before us might have felt differently. It is also fun to feel like we are supporting youth swimming, which needs support in many parts of Los Angeles City and other areas. The traditional model of parent fundraisers, which I remember, do not work for all schools and the Trident Swim Foundation tries to make swimming and academics available for more kids.”

For more information, visit here.

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Steven Munatones