January 12, 2009

CONTACT:        Kathy Cooper

                      (919) 522-9275



North Carolina Aquablazers Swim Team to Bring National Black Heritage Championship Swim Meet to Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary

CARY, NC (January 12, 2009) - The North Carolina Aquablazers Swim Team will host the 7th Annual National Black Heritage Championship Swim Meet at the Triangle Aquatic Center (TAC), on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday May 23rd - Sunday, May 24th, 2009, with an expected thirty teams and at over six hundred swimmers.  The meet has been held in Charlotte, North Carolina (2003-2005), Goldsboro, North Carolina (2006-2007) and Orlando, Florida (2008).  The move to the Triangle Aquatic Center coincides with TAC's recent partnership with USA Swimming's "Make a Splash Program" and their efforts to improve minority swim statistics and reducing drowning deaths nationwide. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB), which coordinated the local bid effort that secured the meet, will serve as a host partner.  In that capacity, GRCVB will work closely with both the Aquablazers and TAC while focusing on visitor services, hospitality, accommodations and marketing. 

"Olympian Maritza Corriea will be participating in swimming clinics and encouraging the aspiring swimmers (Maritza was an NCAA Champion at the University of Georgia and was the First African-American woman to join the USA Olympic Team.  She won a Silver Medal at the 2004 Olympics.)"

This is the premier minority swim meet in the United States.  2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Maritza Correia will host three swimming clinics during the weekend in addition to signing autographs.  2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Cullen Jones has participated in past years by swimming exhibition events with the participants.  It's not your typical North Carolina swim meet since most of the teams will be traveling from 12 states and Washington, DC, mostly from the eastern U.S. and some from as far away California.  It's more of a family reunion, than just a swim meet, where mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, and other relatives attend with their 600 swimmers and coaches. 

The Black Heritage Meet will provide a boost to the local economy on Memorial Day Weekend, a time when most Triangle Area residents head to the beach.  It's a weekend filled with fast swimming, great food and fun for all.  This meet is a marquee event on the area's sports calendar.  The economic impact is estimated at $500,000 in direct visitor spending.

"Drowning is the second leading cause of death for school aged kids and minorities have a significantly higher risk of drowning than their Caucasian counterparts."

The Black Heritage Meet also serves a purpose.  Minorities are nearly three times as likely to drown as their Caucasian counterparts.  TAC is working to combat this sad statistic and has partnered with USA Swimming's "Make A Splash" learn to swim initiative.  Through "Make A Splash", TAC is able to offer free or reduced swim lessons to many eligible children in our community.  Thanks in part to a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Cary Community Foundation, classes have been formed and TAC is accepting registrations for group learn to swim classes for minority school-aged children, ages 5-18.  Doracy Harrison, TAC Program Manager, will be working with area schools, churches, youth groups and the North Carolina Aquablazers Swim Team to register eligible children and ensure that these children are given every opportunity to learn to be safe in, on and around the water.  By participating in the National Black Heritage Championship Swim Meet, these new swimmers will also get the opportunity to experience the competitive side of swimming as well.

The Triangle Aquatic Center (TAC) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to build and operate public aquatic facilities throughout the Triangle.  TAC's first aquatic facility, at 275 Convention Drive, includes a 50 meter competition pool, a 25-yd training pool and a warm water instructional pool.  The TAC facility is 72,000 sq. feet and has comfortable spectator seating capacity for 1000 people.  The TAC facility has a full-service café and an All-American Swim Shop on site.  The TAC facility is conveniently located off Interstate 40 at Exit 291 and is adjacent to Cary's largest shopping mall, Cary Towne Center.

The North Carolina Aquablazers Swim Team, a small group of minority swimmers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, who, along with their parents, want to inspire more minorities to learn to swim and join the competitive swimming ranks,

For more details contact the Meet Director, Kathy Cooper at (919) 522-9275 or kcfromnc@mindspring.com, and visit all of our websites - http://blackheritageswimming.org, www.triangleaquatics.org and www.visitraleigh.com.