INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - The Float Hope youth swimming program will host its annual winter swim meet on Feb. 15 at the North County Pool in Sebastian. The nonprofit organization founded by Jeff Powers helps children from low income families not only learn to swim, but to do so competitively.
Competing in swimming allows children to “enter high school with confidence, friends and high self-esteem,” Mr. Powers told Hometown News. “Our first Float Hope scholarship has turned to gold, because a boy who couldn’t afford to swim year round in 2012 was sponsored. He recently signed with the University of Miami, which is a top swimming school and academically very strong. It wouldn’t have happened without Float Hope, the coaches, and our swimmers determination to swim and win.”
Most of the children in the program “would otherwise not be swimming at all,” Mr. Powers said. On Feb. 15, the over 100 children, mostly ages six to twelve, will compete before an expected record crowd of parents, family, friends, and fellow swimmers. There is no admission fee, and the meet will be followed by a medal ceremony and complimentary barbeque dinner for all attendees.
Float Hope funds 100 percent of the cost for children without means to swim to swim competitively year round on the Treasure Coast Swim Team. Most swimmers come from Boys and Girls Clubs in Vero Beach, Fellsmere, and Sebastian, with others coming from the Gifford Youth Achievement Center.
“Our goal is to give young children swimming as a life skill, to enter high school with friends and confidence, and swim as a freshman on the varsity swim team. Then go on to the college of their choice. The swim meet is our Friday Night Lights. A few years ago not one of these children could swim, and we need the community’s support.”
Float Hope provides swimming three days per week year round, plus two annual swim meets and a team dinner. The Vero Beach, Sebastian, and Fellsmere groups swim at the North County Aquatic Center each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The Gifford group swims Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at the Gifford pool.
“We teach kids starting at ages six to nine to learn to swim, like it and then love it,” Mr. Powers said. The children are all enrolled in the Treasure Coast Swim Team, a USA Swimming club. USA Swimming is the national governing body for the sport of swimming in the United States.
“When kids start they are one-on-one with a coach or assistant coach in the water,” Mr. Powers said. “Many who have been on the team now for two years swim four to six weekly practices mornings and evenings at North County. Many also swim in five or six meets, as our charity will pay their meet entry fees if the parents register the kids and drive them to meets as far away as Orlando, Cocoa and Melbourne.”
“Our goal is to provide the gift of swimming to children who would never swim otherwise. It’s a real team effort with the clubs, the charity, and coaches all doing what each does best.”
The Float Hope Swim Meet takes place Friday, Feb. 15, 5:30 p.m. at the North County Aquatic Center, 9450 County Road 512, Sebastian. For more information, contact Jeff Powers at Jeff@floathopenow.org or (772) 925-3210, or visit www.facebook.com/floathope/ or www.floathopenow.org.