Girls swim team fights water crisis

Jack Duffy, Contributor

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 On Aug. 30, the OPRF girls swim team held a swim-a-thon to raise money for a water well to be installed in an impoverished community in Swaziland. 

The swim team partnered with the Thirst Project, an organization dedicated to bringing clean water access to the world, helping to reduce the plight of women and children who are often sent to fetch water. The Thirst Project often partners with schools to raise money for projects they oversee. OPRF is one of the Thirst Projects partners to raise money for clean water in Swaziland. 

 Swim team coach Clyde Lundgren said women and children in Swaziland are often sent to fetch water. “It takes about eight hours over uneven terrain to get the water,” said Lundgren.

Girls on both the varsity and junior varsity teams swam 3.75 miles to represent the distance the women and children travel to receive water. Team member Livie Zimbler said the team chose to do a swimming fundraiser because “We take water for granted… and this is a good opportunity to give back.” 

At the event the swimmers, coaches, managers, and a few observers cheered as music blared, hyping the swimmers. The team’s initial goal was $12,000. “Thursday night we got to $12,000,” said Zimbler, “and then (Lundgren) texted us that if we reached $18,000, a donor would donate the remainder in order to build two wells.” 

The team reached their goal the night before the swimathon, and the anonymous donor covered the remaining cost of the two wells. 

Zimbler said the team was “psyching themselves out” about the distance, as it was about twice what the team swims on a normal practice day.

On a normal practice day, and it took the team about 2.5 hours to swim the 3.75 miles but still, she said, it did not present a major challenge. ”Physically it wasn’t too bad.”