My daughter Tori and I moved to Wilmington in July 2020 for a fresh start. Tori, like many kids in our community , has dealt with a lot of trauma. While my daughter was in middle school her aunt committed suicide and her close friend fell victim to gun violence. Although moving across the country during a pandemic is what our family needed, it did take its toll on Tori’s social life and her self esteem. A co-worker of mine told me about NSEA Swim. Although my daughter had knowledge of basic water safety, she definitely was not a swimmer by any means. The coaches, fellow swimmers, and parents at NSEA took Tori under their wing, and she flourished. They were able to offer her the things she needed: a consistent schedule, a challenge, and a supportive community. In a matter of a year, Tori went from a novice to a legal swimmer in every stroke with the exception of butterfly. She lost body fat and gained confidence in and out of the pool. Tori went from being a child in crisis to being an honor roll student on a varsity team. As a single black mother, I cannot say enough about the power of the NSEA program and the need to make it available to more children of color.
Roger Norfleet and his wife, Theresa, know what it's like to have a close call with drowning. At a pool party in Wilmington a few years ago, Roger didn't know how to swim and found himself in an active drowning situation. Of the crowd around him, not a single person knew how to swim to help him to safety.
Fortunately, his son, RJ (who also didn't know how to swim at the time!), jumped in to help push his father to safety. This incident was terrifying for the Norfleets, and when an opportunity for free lessons at the Northside pool arose, the entire family signed up.
Last summer, Roger and Theresa participated in adult lessons, and after two lessons, each one was swimming across the pool unassisted. Likewise, their youngest child, Tink, is taking group swim lessons and is progressing well.
But it's the older Norfleet kids who are truly flourishing. Ta'Raji, RJ, and Jon Jon won scholarships to compete on NSEA Swim, and they are learning and improving every day. RJ and Jon Jon both swam the 50 Freestyle in the WOW Commotion at the Ocean meet on Nov. 1, 2019. What an amazing accomplishment for children who couldn't swim the length of the pool earlier this year!