About the City Swim Project

About the

City Swim Project

Founded in 2012, City Swim Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers free or low-cost swim programming in Buffalo, New York. We are registered and insured with USA Swimming and Niagara Swimming. Our coaches are trained, certified, and registered with USA Swimming and the American Swim Coaches Association.

Mission and Vision

Mission: To make a positive impact in diverse communities by providing safe access and a supportive environment for the sport of swimming.

Vision: Every family has the swimming and life skills to succeed in and out of the water.

A national leader.

City Swim Project is among the nation’s leaders in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. USA Swimming has expressed interest in replicating our model in other cities. Our program currently accounts for 4.5% of all African-American swimmers registered with USA Swimming, and 2% of national outreach membership.

Organization history.

In November 2012, Mike Switalski began the Buffalo City Swim Racers with the mission of fighting for equity and diversity in swimming. As a lifeguard, he saw first-hand how a lack of swimming knowledge was segregated and dangerous. Today, Buffalo City Swim Racers, now City Swim Project is a rapidly expanding non-profit with full-time staff; however, they started off as a 6-week program at the William Emslie Family YMCA with 15 swimmers from King Center Charter School. As the weeks went on, the impact BCSR was having in children’s lives was becoming impossible to ignore, and the program partnered with local Buffalo organizations to expand year-round. The investment payed off, and in November 2013, Fina Bell had become the first Buffalo City Swim Racer to participate in a swim meet.

By February 2014, Buffalo City Swim Racers had only been around for two years, but they had already grown into a successful youth program. They were constantly creating more partnerships, expanding their pool use, and increasing the number of schools they worked with. Two partnerships in particular showed where BCSR were heading: becoming an official local chapter of USA Swimming was a big step towards expansion, while officially partnering with the City of Buffalo solidified their local roots. In 2016, BCSR followed through on both directions. Mike Switalski took the mission of Buffalo City Swim Racers national by joining the USA Swimming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion National Committee, while the program continued to partner with more local schools to continue building on the success they had in Buffalo.

Buffalo City Swim Racers had been expanding on a regular basis, but nothing was as great as the steps taken in 2019. The rapid growth taken in this year started when BCSR was awarded a major capacity grant from the Ralph C. Williams Jr. Foundation to hire a full-time staff. With these structural changes on the way, the organization prepared by acquiring permanent office space and becoming a fully independent non-profit. Today, BCSR are more prepared for their future than ever. They are facing the challenges of Covid-19 head on by continuing to expand their network of partner schools and preparing for pool reopening. Mike Switalski’s appointment as a member of USA Swimming’s National Diversity committee has been renewed. Despite their growing profile, Buffalo City Swim Racers are continuing to pursue the goal they were founded on: To make a positive impact in diverse communities by providing safe access and a supportive environment for the sport of swimming.

In 2021, Buffalo City Swim Racers changed its name to City Swim Project. The operating organization as well as the learn-to-swim program will be recognized as City Swim Project. The competitive team will be recognized as the Buffalo Tide, a program of the City Swim Project.