Another Memorial Day Pool Bash

By Bonitta Best
Updated: May 20, 2010

Maritza Correia

Maritza Correia

RALEIGH, N.C. — The National Black Heritage Championship Swim Meet was such a success at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, organizers are bringing it back for a second go-round.

Now in its eighth year, the predominately black AAU swimming competition will be held Memorial Day weekend (May 29-30) with over 40 teams and 720 swimmers expected to participate.

The N.C. Aquablazers Swim Team, a group of black parents who decided to start their own meet to showcase black swimmers, hosts the meet. The event has grown from 10 teams and 104 swimmers to where it is today.

After holding the meet in Charlotte, Goldsboro and Florida, meet director Kathy Cooper believes they finally have a home.

“We loved having it here [last year], and the coaches did too,” said Cooper who is also a member of the Aquablazers. “We’ve gotten several new donors and people have been so generous.”

2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Maritza Correia and 2008 Gold Medalist Cullen Jones will return to sign autographs and host several swimming clinics. Correia is the first black woman to win an Olympic medal in swimming; Jones, an NC State graduate, is the first black to win gold.

Correia will again be the keynote speaker at the community breakfast May 28 at 9 a.m. at Embassy Suites Cary. The breakfast honors minority-swimming pioneers in N.C. who either taught swimming lessons, served as lifeguards or coached minority swimmers.

Proceeds help provide swim lessons for low-income families.

According to a USA Swimming survey, over 60 percent of black children can’t swim. That statistic leads to the next one: Black children drown at almost three times the overall rate.

“This would help us achieve our mission of lowering the drowning statistics for minority swimmers and encouraging more minority swimmers to swim competitively,” Cooper said.

NOTE: For more information, or to become a sponsor, contact Kathy Cooper at (919) 522-9275 or kcfromnc@mindspring.com.