NFA Varsity Crew and Alumni Teach Student Ambassadors to Swim - Daily Hudson Valley News

NFA Varsity Crew and Alumni Teach Student Ambassadors to Swim

Mar 9th, 2013 | By | Category: In Your Town

On February 23, 2013, members of the NFA Varsity Crew Team, including two recent graduates, came out to the New York Military Academy (“NYMA”) Pool to teach children ages 10 – 13 in the Newburgh Rowing Student Ambassador program to swim, so that they can pass the U.S. Rowing swim test.

“This is our second year with the Student Ambassador program,” said Coach Ed Kennedy, Head Coach of the NFA Varsity Crew Team and Programs Director at Newburgh Rowing, and a former swim coach, starting at Ketcham High School 33 years ago.  “I was amazed at what we accomplished last year, teaching 21 children who were non-swimmers to pass the US Rowing Swim test.  And this year is no different.  We had 14 children the first day, and we have more coming next week.  At the beginning, almost all of them couldn’t even manage to put their faces in the water.  By the end of the 2-hour swim session, every one of them was able to make it down to the deep end of the pool and back, using kickboards and flippers.  That was a major accomplishment.”

“This is the greatest program, I couldn’t be more proud of the kids who are learning, they are very brave, as well as the young people who are volunteering to teach them.  We had 5 members of the 2012 NFA Varsity Crew Team and of those, 3 were on the NFA Varsity Swim Team as well, most of them are certified lifeguards, including Matthew Weresbe, who is an Eagle Scout.  The NFA Varsity Crew Team has been absolutely amazing in their willingness to help out.  You just couldn’t ask for better teachers.  We found last year that we were able to teach 21 of the Student Ambassadors to swim because we had so many experienced swimmers getting in the water with them.  We especially appreciate Allan Murillo, a freshman at R.I.T., where he is on the swim team, and Carlos Cabrera, who is going into the military, coming out to help, as they graduated NFA in 2012.  Carlos Cabrera, Allan Murillo, Frankie Maurice, Lea Stepakoff, and Matthew Weresbe all taught the Student Ambassadors last year.  Allan came down here on his college spring break to teach swimming.”

NFA Crew STudent Ambassador Program

Group shot of Student Ambassadors and teachers.

One of the parents was especially thankful to Coach Kennedy and the volunteer teachers.  He asked if he could go home and get his daughter, a student at Nora Cronin.  He came back and told the Coach that he had paid for many swim lessons for his daughter but she was still unable to overcome her fear of the water.  After Carlos Cabrera, NFA Swim team and NFA Varsity Crew Team and 2012 graduate worked with the little girl directly, she overcame her fear of the water, and was able to swim, with flippers and kickboard, several laps in the pool.  “I’m just happy to help out,” said Cabrera.

“One of the best parts for me,” said Coach Kennedy, “was seeing Dajour Fisher, who was a Student Ambassador last year, come back this year as a helper.  We taught him to swim and to row last year.  He has been swimming and rowing ever since, he is one of our top rowers in his age group, which is 13.  Now he is in the pool helping the younger kids.  That’s exactly what this program is designed to do.”

“The crew team is like family to me,” said Dajour (“Soup”) Fisher, an 8th grader at San Miguel Academy.  “I am happy to help out.”

The Student Ambassador program is free to those accepted into it, and is made possible by a grant from the Hudson River Improvement Fund, said Team Mom LoBiondo, along with the time volunteered by the coaches and experienced swimmers.  To apply for the Newburgh Rowing Student Ambassadors, the applicant must be ages 10 – 17, reside in the City of Newburgh, and qualify for the free lunch program, said LoBiondo.  If accepted, the Student Ambassadors are taught to swim sufficiently well to pass the rigorous US Rowing Swim Test, and also are taught to row in crew shells on the Hudson River.

For more information on Newburgh Rowing, including the Student Ambassador program, or the NFA Varsity Crew Team, contact Coach Ed Kennedy at (845) 541-2313 or email Team Mom Juliana LoBiondo .

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