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St. Cloud coach encourages more diversity in swimming

April 13, 2019

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — A swimming coach at a St. Cloud high school is working to introduce the sport to more students of color and students with disabilities.

Apollo High School coach Alex Badger is running a spring camp for students in grades 3-8 that’s intended to encourage those who might not have been involved in swimming to try the sport, the St. Cloud Times reported .

The camp grew from 33 students last year to 57 this spring. The team also recently welcomed its first Muslim students.

“We originally thought of this because we wanted to make sure that this was accessible to all kids and all students regardless of their financial status or regardless of what transportation they had,” Badger said.

The after-school camp provides transportation and help with covering costs to ease the burden on families, she said. The class costs $30.

“We’re actually operating this at a deficit,” Badger said. “Our teams are losing money in order to put on this program.”

Swimmers on the high school’s varsity team help run the camp, which develops leadership skills and keeps operating costs low.

Badger also aims to improve safety by making sure that more students learn how to swim. She developed the camp two years after a 6-year-old boy with autism drowned in the Mississippi River in 2015.

“We live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Kids should know how to swim here,” she said. “Fundamentally as coaches and as humans, we want to make sure that everyone in our community is safe and knows how to swim.”

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Information from: St. Cloud Times, http://www.sctimes.com

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