Organized by: Adam Monk
Lane 8 Update- Wednesday, May 3, 2017
May 03, 2017
Lane 8 is 501 (c) 3 established to provide the tools for Cincinnati's inner-city youth to build and maintain suitable life skills to overcome the tremendous obstacles in their way through competitive swimming.
We provide our commitment to swimmers through swimsuits, swim caps, goggles, bags, towels, shirts, shorts, school uniforms, and a pool membership to swimmers giving us the same commitment in return. These are not "free" or "hand-outs", rather tools earned to use a sport that naturally instills some of life's greatest lessons day in and day out. Competitive swimming arguably forces an athlete to hold themselves more accountable while demanding more heart than any other sport on the planet. The perfect platform to acheive our goals with the kids.
During my six year tenure with the Cincinnati Rrecreation Commission, I had the opportunity to not only work with the kids on a daily basis as a lifeguard and pool manger but a swim coach as well. I found the most frustrating part was lacking basic essentials to even complete a full, one hour practice. The kids could only afford one suit for the summer and they were never fitness swimsuits. Also, they could never afford goggles or swim caps. Everyday I would lend them mine, but I only had so much to go around.
The worst part was attending meets and seeing all confidence built during the week quickly fade as they watched many of their competitors in matching suits, goggles, and caps. As many people know, confidence is the biggest driving force for any athlete in any discipline. Each summer we would have athlete quit day by day until we were down to one. By the time City Finals came, we were fortunate to have more than one swimmer representing our pool. Was it because the kids did not enjoy swimming? Perhaps, but the fun they seemed to have at practice would argue otherwise. What is because they are afraid of competition? Possibly. Practicing all week just to find your peers in matching caps with teams consiting of forty or fifty athletes can be daunting and force one to second guess why you even bother, but their competitive spirit in practice would suggest the opposite. What was it that made swimming so much fun when I began? My team! We were a team. Not only did we compete with/against each other but we had matching suits and caps and the swim meets were an event. Burgers, hot dogs, pizza, etc. Yes my favorite part was competing at the time, but when my friends and I reflect, what happened in the pool is the last thing mentioned. Our goal is to create this for the swimmers we sponsor.
Why Lane 8?
The name Lane 8 stems from the idea that in the sport of swimming, the swimmer in lane 8 is the underdog of the race. This swimmer either had the slowest seed time, or had the slowest prelim time in a swim meet, thus giving them the worst odds of winning the race. Much like the guy or gal in lane 8, the kids we sponsor are seen as underdogs by lacking the simple essentials for swimming. Despite the odds not being in their favor, this does not give the swimmer in lane 8 an excuse to give up. Even though they are not the favorite, they are still given a lane and that lane is the same length and width as every other lane. Our biggest goal as a nonprofit is to apply this metaphor to life. In life, their road to success is paved with many more portholes, hills and detours than most kids. This does not mean we pity ourselves. It means we adapt.