Westport Swimmers Dive in for Haitian Relief Effort


Photo by Monica Mula ’10

Monica Mula ’10
Web Opinions Editor

Staples swim teams were excited to participate in the Swim for Haiti event on February 2nd | Photo by Monica Mula '10

Twenty-one days after the earthquake in Haiti, Staples Swimming and the Westport-Weston Family Y have teamed up to support the suffering children under 21 years of age— which equates to half of Haiti’s overall population.

The Wimer family, involved with both Staples and YMCA swim teams, has a special connection to the crisis in Haiti. As they have family there, they decided contributions from the swimmers would be an effective way to raise money for support.

“My wife, Peggy, was born in Port-au-Prince and has first cousins and extended family living there,” said Ronald Wimer, co-president of the Water Rats Parents’ Club.

After the other successful swimming fundraisers that sophomore Gabrielle Wimer and her brother, Max Wimer took part in, the family decided this would be the best approach.

“We asked Linda Bruce if the Staples teams wanted to be involved,” said Wimer, “and although they had three upcoming meets, we appreciated that they took time out of their schedules to help.”

Swimmers sought out Westport residents to aid the cause, many of whom donated a set amount of money per lap.

“Since the earthquake directly affected members of the team, this cause is especially meaningful to us,” said Cameron Bruce ’10, tri-captain of the Boys Swim Team.

Bruce expressed that he and other swimmers were delighted that churches, companies, and other private organizations were willing to pitch in, despite this being one of many Haitian relief efforts.

A similar process was carried out for the Asian Tsunami relief not long ago, and $19,000 was raised by the swim teams at that event.

“We hope to raise even more this time,” said Linda Bruce on the day of the event. Bruce was an integral part of the coordination of the Swim for Haiti effort.

Bruce explained that they knew they would donate to a large, well-established agency. It was the shocking statistic of the number of children in Haiti that encouraged them to donate to Save the Children.

“Children are always the most vulnerable during emergencies,” wrote Save the Children in response to the earthquake. “Children have experienced a tremendous shock and face uncertainty in the coming weeks and months.”

Thus, the student swimmers of Westport are working hard to help the children of Haiti.

The Staples swim teams were goaled to swim 150 laps, or 3,750 meters and were optimistic about accomplishing more.

YMCA’s own Water Rats team had goals by level, with seniors swimming 5,000 yards.

Even the younger swimmers were enthusiastic about the cause,  swimming relays in order to contribute.

Wimer expressed his pride in the swimmers for working so hard to raise money and support from the community.

“There were 250 swimmers involved, ranging in age from six to 66 years old,” said Wimer. “Coach Jeffrey Schare agreed to open it to all swimmers and we were pleased to have so many people participating.”

The Swim for Haiti effort raised a total of $45,000 between the Staples teams and the YMCA.

The check was presented to Save the Children on Friday, February 5th.