Poolside at Thomas Jefferson High School was the place to be. Students in the MUSA Swim program were showing off their skills and having a great time. MUSA Swim founder and director, Tracy Caldron, held an open house last week for the students, some of whom only learned to swim a few weeks ago.

MUSA is a Swahili and Muslim name for boys. It means “saved from the waters.”

NYC Council Member Inez Barron, who has supported and funded MUSA Swim, was on hand with a proclamation that was presented to Caldron, her staff and the students. MUSA Swim primarily targets Black and Latino males, but young sisters are in it, too. The program teaches participants to swim, provides an opportunity to acquire lifeguard certification and places them in high-paying aquatics positions throughout New York City.

Caldron’s motto is “MUSA Swim students will learn to save the lives of others and in the process save their own.”  Jose Green is the aquatic director and trains all the students, from beginners to those who are upgrading their skills with lifeguard safety and rescue strategy and tactics.

Green introduced some of the teens.

“This is Cheyanne,” he said of one sister. “She is one of my most improved swimmers.” Addressing the young swimmer directly, he added, “Tell us how the program helped you.”

Cheyanne replied with a smile, “I enjoy the swimming program. I find that I grew a lot more confident in the water and I’m not afraid anymore. I feel like it opened up a new side of me that I never knew before, because I didn’t swim as much as I do now.”

A tall young brother from France approached. Green said, “Now Radu is my favorite swimmer because he thought he could swim. Radu wasn’t swimming at all!” Jose laughed, and then said to the young man, “Tell us how you developed.” 

A soft-spoken Radu said, “MUSA taught me a lot. I’m swimming faster and working on my movements. Eventually, I want to become a Navy SEAL.”

Another young man, Malik, has been in the swim program for more than a year. Green said, “When Malik started, he didn’t even want to get in the water. I had to get in with him in order for him to come in the pool. He didn’t want to put his face in the water. Now Malik is doing great things; jumping in the water and moving along the pool.”

Malik said, “In the beginning, I didn’t want to get in the water. But, I’m comfortable now and I’m getting pretty good.”

Green and his team of lifeguards are committed to working with young people. He said, “We want them to learn to swim and develop leadership skills. They are also having fun together!”

Council Member Charles Barron said, “I am very proud of these young people. They are excited about the program, and they are helping each other learn and develop. It’s wonderful! MUSA Swim programs are needed in the 42nd District and citywide. They do a great job!”