A swimming coach in the city of South Fulton is instilling confidence and lifelong skills in children of all ages.
The Parks and Recreation Department and Welcome All Park are home to the City of South Fulton’s Swordfish Swim Team, the secret gem of South Fulton, according to officials. Aquatics Supervisor Elisha Bashir, otherwise known as “Coach Reno” is the head coach. Bashir started teaching swimming lessons to young kids at Welcome All Park as a Lifeguard in 1997 and started the CSF Swordfish Swim team two years later. Bashir created the program to expose African-American youth to his passion for swimming and to help them get over their fear of getting in the water.
“Swimming saved my life. I grew up in the inner city from Philly to Atlanta,” said Bashir. “I knew that my skills were needed in this community and I made it my mission to teach swimming lessons to as many people as possible.”
The Swordfish practice for regional and state meets year-round at Welcome All Park. There are 26 members on the all African-American, co-ed swim team. Former Swordfish members have received college scholarships to schools such as Point and Wingate Universities and Goucher College. Former team members have even qualified for Olympic trials.
“Our biggest accomplishment, to date, is having five kids to advance to sectionals, which is a level above state meet,” Bashir explained. “Kids from our swim team have won fifth and sixteenth place out of 8,000 swimmers competing from nine states within the Eastern Conference.”
Bashir wants to make sure all kids who have an interest in swimming competitively get a chance to do so.
That is why he prefers to simplify the requirements to tryout for the CSF Swordfish Swim Team. Additionally, he teaches swimming lessons through The Learn to Swim Program which teaches the basics to include awareness of pool depth, and how to perform a variety of swimming strokes and breathing techniques.
He recommends parents who are interested in registering their kids to swim on the Swordfish team start first with enrolling their child in swimming lessons to build confidence and become comfortable with swimming in an Olympic-sized pool.
“I also instill confidence in my students, so they feel as if they belong in the room with other competitors. They are very excited about swimming and they cannot wait until their next race,” Bashir said.