NSEA Swim brings water safety to underserved neighborhood; non-profit gears up for summer

WILMINGTON, NC (WWYA) – Summer is almost here and lots of people will be heading to community pools, lakes and beaches.

A Wilmington non-profit’s mission is to expose as many people to swim lessons, those skills learned can save their life in the event of an emergency.

Sally Wyatt is the inclusive swim coordinator for the program.

“Throughout history municipal pools have been segregated, and I think that the right to learn how to (swim) often taken for granted,” she said. “It’s important to see that the pool is a resource and option for them,” said Wyatt.

Wyatt is referring to the Northside of downtown Wilmington where there was no access to a pool.

According to the American Red Cross, 85% of Americans say they can swim- but less than half – know the basic skills needed to save their life in water.

Northside Elite Aquatics or NSEA Swim, is a year-round swim club.

Devin Lassard is founder, and now an assistant coach for the NSEA competitive swim team.

“Once we were able to take over the pool with the help of Novant Health and the partnership with the city, the program started, ” she said.

The team swims competitively in USA swimming meets – where swimmers ages five-through-18 are exposed to the sport.

The organization brings aquatic programs to people in underserved neighborhoods in Wilmington.

Larry Burns learned to swim as an adult, his kids were signed for swim lessons and saw how much they enjoyed the activity.

“I always wanted to learn how to swim, I was always in the shallow end while my friends were in the deep end,” he said.

Now, Burns is a certified instructor – his kids were his inspiration for meeting that goal.

“I think everyone should know how to swim,” he said.

Sonja Bell Green and Gale Mack have known each other since childhood, they both learned to swim a few months ago.

They didn’t let their age stop themselves from learning to swim.

“There is no age to learn to swim, I’ve always wanted to learn, when we were children growing up in this very neighborhood, we did not have access to pools,” said Bell Green.

“And this is the neighborhood we’ve lived in all our lives,” said Mack.

Their mission is to increase water safety and prevent drowning through education.

Wyatt says swim classes need to be readily accessible to all.

“I really, really, really want to work every day to bridge that gap and make sure that we are moving in a more positive direction in the future.”

Wyatt said the organization offers free lessons , and relies on donations and volunteers to keep the program running.

More information on NSEA Swim can be found by clicking here.

Categories: New Hanover, News