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Small strokes make a big difference in the world

Adia Waldburger of the Record staff

When Parkite Carol Arvidsson picked up an in-flight magazine during a recent trip, she had no idea her actions would lead to a event of global proportions.

She began reading about an international endeavor called the World Swim for Malaria, which encourages swimmers around the world to participate on December 3, or another date if needed, to raise money for people in malaria-infected regions of the world. As the wife of a former Olympic swimmer and the mother of young swimmers, Arvidsson knew immediately this was a cause that swimmers in Park City should get behind.

According to literature provided by World Swim for Malaria, the disease is the largest killer of children in the world, claiming one to three million lives each year. There are drugs that protect people against malaria, but are too strong to be taken for more than a few weeks, so taking precautions is the best way to fight the disease. World Swim for Malaria has found that the use of bed nets is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the disease, because mosquitoes most often attack at night. Each bed net costs about $5 each.

On Dec. 2, the Park City Aquatic team, members of the Park City High School Swim Team and other swimmers in the community will join together with swimmers worldwide to raise help raise money to buy bed nets and fight malaria.

"I think it’s a great way for people to unite for malaria on the same day," said Arvidsson who is the organizer of the event.

The Park City event will be called the "Mile for Malaria," and will encourage all participants to swim at least one mile. That way, accomplished swimmers and recreational swimmers can get in the water and get involved if they desire.

"If 50 people swim and raise $100 each, it can prevent 50 people from dying from malaria," said Klarich.

The youth aquatic team swimmers will be lead by new head coach Mike Werner, a Morgan resident, who recently left the Poseidon (West Valley) Aquatic Team to take the Park City position.

The kids have decided to figure out how far they think they can swim and go to people in the community and ask for donations for that distance.

According to Arvidsson, the fundraiser is in its first year and so she wanted Park City to get involved from its beginnings. This is also the first time the youth aquatic team has participated in a service project.

"People will swim anyway, only not for a good cause," said Arvidsson. Ecker Hill Aquatic Center director Todd Klarich says it helps to kids to have fun while contributing globally.

"It’s just an opportunity for kids to share their passion for swimming with kids around the world," Klarich said.

Swimming, rather than running for a cause is a bit of new concept in the area.

"It’s a different approach and it’s catching on," Klarich said. "We thought that kids could help from learning and joining the fight for malaria.

Because swimming is such an individual sport, Klarich is also hoping a swimming charity event will give swimmers more of a team or community feel.

"It’s something else besides the everyday swimming and competing for themselves. Swimming is individual and this is a way to come together as a whole and contribute to a great cause," said Klarich. The Mile for Malaria will take place on Friday, Dec. 2 from 4-6 p.m. Swimmers of all abilities are invited to join in and swim at the Ecker Hill Aquatic Center. Currently, 250,000 swimmers have signed up for the cause, so the push for participation will have to come this week. Even non-swimmers may come out and support the cause through donations and support. There will be drinks and games provided. For more information call the aquatic center at 645-5617. For those not be able to witness this unique event, the biggest impact will be made by contributions. To sponsor the Park City event, log onto http://www.WorldSwimForMalaria.com and go to Park City area though the "sponsor me" link. More information on the endeavor is available at that site as well.


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