Program Helps Kids In and Out of Pool

July 28, 2015

By: Jay Hinton

FORT WORTH, Texas -- A friendship fostered more than three decades ago has now blossomed into a corroboration to help underpriviledged children in the Fort Worth area receive swimming lessons.

TCU golf letterman Walt Rainwater and TCU swimming & diving head coach Richard Sybesma, who met some 35 years ago when Rainwater asked Sybesma to coach a club swimming team, joined forces three years ago in an effort to teach children how to swim.

Rainwater was given the gift to help kids with the funds through the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, while Sybesma had the know-how to teach children to swim, and the partnership was created.

"With the money donated through the foundation, we are able to help children be better students and to have more opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise have," Sybesma said.

The first year of the program had 60 kids and six instructors. Now, the program assists 450 kids with a six-week swimming program with 12 30-minute lessons. Roughly 225 kids take lessons at Forth Worth ISD's Wilkerson-Greines swimming pool on Mondays and Wednesdays, while another 225 take lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"These are the kids who need to take these lessons," Sybesma said. "A lot of them are going to learn how to handle themselves in the water and keep themselves from drowning in the future."

Now the foundation,which works with the Fort Worth Mobile Recreation Program and the Morningside Children's Partnership, employs 12 instructors, five lifeguards and three supervisors. A majority of the administration is done by TCU students, TCU student-athletes or TCU swimming coaches.

"We are reaching 450 kids that wouldn't normally get this opportunity," Sybesma said. "It's pretty cool. I think the kids realize it's a special opportunity, and the parents see this as a great opportunity to have their kids start to learn how to swim."

Some 225 children from Rosemont Elementary, George C. Clark Elementary, Daggett Elementary and Seminary Hills Elementary are served through the Fort Worth Mobile Recreation program, while some 225 kids from Morningside Elementary, Briscoe Elementary, Carroll Peak Elementary and Van Zant Guinn Elementary are sponsored through the Morningside Children's Partnership.

"We're providing lessons to a group of children that wouldn't be able to take lessons," Sybesma said. "The program is doing some wonderful things for children who would never have had that opportunity."

The 2015 summer program, which began June 22, is now in its final week. It ends July 30.

"Mr. Rainwater has been given a gift and he wants to pass it down," Sybesma said. "We have grown every year."



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