MEMPHIS, Tenn. — City pools in Memphis are open. While some kids will spend the summer splashing around, some plan to brush up on their swimming techniques.
The boys from Grizzlies Prep Charter School want to conquer the pool.
They're practicing laps, strokes and all of the techniques to win meets.
"I wanted to join the swim team, because I wanted to try something different from everybody else not just basketball or football," Lenny Sears, Grizzlies Prep Swimmer, said.
Teacher Eddie Walsh started the swim team just three years ago after finding out many of the students couldn't swim.
"What's interesting about Memphis is we have plenty of pools, plenty of coaches and people available. It's just a matter of getting kids involved," he said.
Once exposed to the sport, the teams roster grew and grew some more. It now includes about 40 boys.
"Swimming opens a lot of doors. It did for me when I was a youth as well," Coach Walsh said.
A national study done by the University of Memphis revealed 70 percent of African Americans don't know how to swim.
They drown at a much higher rate than others, which is another reason this team is so important.
"At first I didn't know how to swim. so it was kind of like a whole new option. From going from not knowing how to swim to becoming certified as a life guard, i would say that's helped me a lot. Now, I'm about to go to a boarding school in Virginia, so it's like I`m able to have a job to help pay for a gap that we can't pay," swimmer Jason Neele said.
The boys have made a lot of progress in a short time.
So much so, the school plans to start one of the city's first middle school water polo teams, a sport designed for the strongest and best of swimmers.
"The sport started 5 years ago in Tennessee, and we're hoping to grow a team in the city next year. Most of our teams are in East Memphis or in the suburbs," Coach Walsh said.