At a time when many cities were digging out from under the snow, the scene in DC at the Takoma Aquatic Center was an amazing display of hundreds of DC residents gathering to watch outstanding young people in a thrilling swim competition that forged ahead despite the snow.
Although the morning events had to be canceled while District work crews cleared the snow and prepared the center for the event, the crowds gathered at 1 pm for the four hour event that filled the Olympic size first class with cheering men, women, and children as young people drove into the pool to test their swimming skills with their fellow competitors.
The Black History Invitational Swim Meet is a collaborative effort by DPR and the United Black Fund Inc. (UBF), the event was founded in 1987 by Dr. Calvin Rolark and Dr. William H. Rumsey with the goals of nourishing self-reliance, determination, and the spirit of fair play for youth and their parents. Over the years, the competition has offered urban youth nationwide a positive outlet in the sport of competitive swimming. More than 850 athletes, ranging in ages from 5 to 18, from more than 30 teams will compete in the standard swim events, including individual medley, freestyle, butterfly, back and breast strokes and relays. Athletes traveled from Ohio, Florida, Massachusetts and Georgia among other states. USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport of swimming, hailed the event as the premier minority swim competition in the United States and in the world.
Now in its 28th year, the annual Black History Invitational Swim Meet has become a much anticipated event. The news that the swim team from Atlanta chose to brave the snow storm conditions by driving overnight to DC after flights were canceled due to the weather is an indication of the high regard for the event and the determination of participants to attend the event.
On Valentine's Day the cheers from the crowd and the enthusiastic support for the young people in the competition was reminiscent of a crowd at the winter Olympics. The excellent facility by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation provided the perfect location for the event.
The 28th Annual Black History Swim Meet from February 14 through February 16th at the Takoma Aquatic Center in the District of Columbia is well organized and executed event that attracts top quality participates from around the nation. It has become a qualifying event for even greater achievement at national swim meets.
The hours of watching the young people who were engaged in healthy, team spirited, events of Valentine's Day 2014 was an inspiration to the nation. DPR will honor Coach Russell Williams of the Baltimore City Swim Club for his outstanding participation in the Black History Invitational Swim Meet from its beginnings in 1987 until the present day.
"A consistent supporter of the swim meet, Coach Williams has not only seen, it grow year after year in every Black History Invitational Swim Meet, but he is one of the reasons that the event continues to grow. We are privileged to honor Coach Williams this year," DPR said.
The event continues at the Takoma Aquatic Center which is conveniently located near Calvin Coolidge Senior High School on 300 Van Buren Street, NW, Washington, D.C. The center is a short walk from the Takoma Park Metro Station and the 62 Metro bus line.
The event is open and free to the public and begins today at 8:00 a.m. There is an excellent concession stand for food and drinks and great customer service for the sale of T-Shirts from the event are available at the entrance to the center.