Asphalt Green Adds Soccer to Annual Swimming Event

Some young New Yorkers hopped in the pool on the Upper East Side for Asphalt Green's 21st Annual Big Swim. As our Natalie Duddridge explains, the event brought Olympians together with kids in the hopes of creating future Olympians.

Taking the plunge — hundreds of kids ages six to ten are making a big splash — at the 21st annual Big Swim at Asphalt Green. 

"I think it's so cool that we have people from Olympics who are here to come and help me learn how to swim," said Joshua, a Big Swim participant.

Many of these kids have come a long way from the shallow end. Now they are swimming laps in Olympic-sized lanes, with support from some Olympians cheering them on.

Rowdy Gaines is a three-time Olympic gold medalist who says this non-profit event is also a fundraiser. Money raised over the years has taught thousands of kids how to swim and be safe near water. 

"These children in the beginning of the fall deathly afraid of the water they're really scared and all of a sudden six to eight months later they can't wait to dive off those blocks and actually swim a lap in the pool and get a ribbon, to get a medal, get a time," Gaines said.

"It's really important probably because if you go on a boat and something unfortunate happens and you're in the water it's really important I can keep you safe by knowing how to swim," said one young swimmer.

From the pool to the playing field for the first year ever, hundreds of kids are also taking part in the Big Kick — and get to play soccer with a star.

"Very happy to be here to spend time with the kids I was when I was a child of I have my dream is to be at the Professional soccer to be involved in the sport they teach a lot of very good values," said Raul Gonzalez Blanco, who has played for the Spanish National Soccer Team and Real Madrid.

And Asphalt Green hopes to teach kids to push hard and go after their dreams.

"You don't usually get to race against kids your own age," said one swimmer. "It's really fun."

And it doesn't get more competitive than this — members of the USA synchronized team who are headed to the Rio Summer Olympic Games performed for the budding athletes. 

Hoping to inspire them that one day these medals will be gold. 

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