Md. high school student starts swim club for low-income kids in Northeast DC

The entire WJA Swim Club with the kids. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Lindsay Alisbah, founder of the WJA Swim Club, is holding a student as he is floating backward. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

A WJA Swim Club instructor high fives a student. (WTOP/ Melissa Howell)

A cake congratulating the WJA Swim Club. (WTOP/ Melissa Howell)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been changed to reflect the correct school Lindsay Alisbah attended. 

Last month, a Bethesda swimming pool was packed with kids getting free swimming lessons.

Lindsay Alisbah, a student at Holton-Arms School, started the Washington Jesuit Academy Swim Club as a way to give back. “I was like, ‘Why don’t I just share my love of swimming with them?'” she said.



Some of her friends joined her to kick off the five-week course as they welcomed 12 boys from the Washington Jesuit Academy in D.C., which serves boys from low-income and underserved communities.

“I really wanted to show them that they could be comfortable in the water,” Alisbah said, thinking back to her first time in the water at 7 years old.

According to the USA Swimming Foundation, about 79% of children in families with household incomes of less than $50,000 have low or no swimming ability.

Alisbah says the plan now is to continue growing and reaching more kids in low-income communities who may not have the opportunity to learn how to swim. While Alisbah and the other instructors teach the kids how to swim, she said she learns from them, too.

“I think I’ve taken away being very appreciative for the opportunities I’ve had,” she said. “Next summer, getting a whole new group of kids, the focus is on making it as good as it was this year.”

You can learn more about the WJA Swim Club on the group’s website.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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