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Waves of Wilmington fights to keep swimming alive

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The proposed cuts from the UNCW Athletic Department may affect more than just the University. The trickle down affect could hurt swimming programs like Waves of Wilmington.

More than 250 students, parents and coaches joined forces tonight at the UNCW natatorium to show their support for the University’s Swimming and Diving programs. Programs some say help save lives.

It was practice as normal for the members of Waves of Wilmington Swim Team Tuesday evening. The only difference was the hundreds of parents and community members cheering them on.

"I think it's important because it teaches them life skills, time management skills and holds them accountable to be something beyond themselves,” Sokolofsky said.

David Sokolofsky is the head coach and Chief Operations Officer for Waves of Wilmington. He says the swimming and diving programs at UNCW are vital to our community.

"It goes beyond UNCW Swimming and Diving. It affects the entire community. There are so many branches to this UNCW Swimming and Diving family that it really does affect the entire community,” Sokolfsky said.

Branches that include area lifeguards responsible for keeping are beaches safe. David Baker is the Ocean Rescue Director for Wrightsville Beach and says swimming programs definitely save lives.

"Currently almost a third of our staff is former or current swimmers. Just this weekend alone we had 58 rescues, and of that UNCW swimmers were an important part of saving a life," Baker said.

Supporters say cutting the UNCW Swimming and Diving Team will hurt not only the university but swimmers of all ages.

John Pelizzari is the swimming coach at Ashley High School and a parent of a teenager who swims on the Waves of Wilmington Swim Team.

"As a high school coach my high school swimmers may not have a place to swim and further down the road it might be that we don't have high school swimming here anymore mainly because we don't have a facility and we don't have any place to send them, too," Pelizzari said.

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