WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg-based Ready, Set, Swim! Foundation teaches at-risk youth and newcomers to Canada how to swim and internationally-decorated swimmer Yuri Kisil is a proud supporter.
Kisil, a 23-year-old triple world championship medallist, believes the foundation’s work will save lives. “I have had a privileged upbringing,” said Kisil, a 2016 Olympian and Swimming Canada’s reigning co-male swimmer of the year. “I learned to swim as a very young child because my parents knew that swimming is a skill that could potentially save my life one day.
“Knowing how to swim should not be a privilege. A lot of children die needlessly every year in drowning incidents while participating in what should be fun and healthy outdoor activities. Many of these tragedies could be avoided if these children knew how to swim and were taught some basic water safety principles.”
Kisil’s uncle and aunt – Edward and Debbie Carriere – agree and they are at the heart of a major fundraiser for the foundation at the Edward Carriere Salon on Spence Street in downtown Winnipeg. Fundraising for the foundation has been active at the salon for six weeks, but it will culminate on Sunday, when all proceeds from cuts, blow-dries, manicures, pedicures, lip waxes and brow waxes will be donated to the foundation. Fourteen stylists will be donating their time and working for free at the salon that day. There will also be a raffle on a lavish gift basket and tax deductible donations will be accepted. The Wasabi sushi restaurant will be donating food.
The Carriers host charity fundraisers every year, but this Ready, Set, Swim! Foundation touched their heart.
“We are just responding to a need in our community,” said Adam Nixon, manager of the salon, which will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday.
The salon hopes to raise about $12,000 for the foundation.
“The whole staff is excited and we know our customers are going to be happy to help the foundation, too,” Nixon said.
Ready, Set, Swim! Chairwoman Rishona Hyman said the foundation will begin operating eight-week classes in January. Participants will swim in 30-minute classes once a week. The parents of the participants will also be enrolled in water safety courses.
“We are eliminating barriers,” Hyman said. “There are underprivileged kids and newcomers to our country who need to learn how to swim and now they will have that opportunity.
“So far, the reaction is the community has been very positive. I can see a program like this being offered all across Canada. We have identified the need and we have eliminated the barriers.”
Kisil, who was born in Calgary and lives in Toronto, didn’t hesitate to get involved with Ready, Set Swim!
“I have always been interested in supporting positive initiatives directed at disadvantaged youth,” he said. “A few years ago, through a program sponsored by Swimming Canada, I was able to provide some financial support to a breakfast program that fed children who were coming to school hungry in the morning.
“As we all know, you can’t achieve your potential in either sports or academics if you’re hungry. That experience really left an impression on me. That’s why I am happy to do whatever I can to support fantastic community work being done through local programs like Ready, Set Swim!”