A dozen young Dallas swimmers have achieved their own Olympic-inspired dream.
The members of the Park South Family YMCA Sharks came in fifth in the Lone Star Swim Championships — their best finish ever.
For the South Dallas team, the YMCA state meet, which was held in Frisco in late July, was just as big as a global competition.
“I tried our hardest, and that’s all that matters," 8-year-old Ava Hollins said. "But even though four teams got ahead of us, we still tried."
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Ava's mother, Amye Thompson Hollins, said she was "super proud of them, the heart that they showed."
She said it's inspiring for the kids to see role models who look like them.
“It is awesome to see representation on the world stage like the Olympics,” Thompson Hollins said.
She knows swimming is a skill that can shape the kids' futures.
“It’s first about safety, then it’s about confidence building and character building and being able to compete," Thompson Hollins said. "And if you’re able to compete, it could take you really far in your life."
Madel Perez, the Park South Family YMCA aquatics director, coached the team of swimmers who range from 6 to 11 years old.
“I tell them strive to work hard, and never put a limit on what you can accomplish if you work hard,” Perez said.
Perez said it's especially important for children to see swimmers from diverse backgrounds because Black and Latino children compose a large portion of drownings in the area.
"... In a community where most of the kids don't know how to swim, starting a team and encouraging, and just teaching them not to even be afraid of the deep end, teaching them to dive, or even different strokes, that's very, very important," she said.
Perez is hoping to grow the swim team at the Park South Family YMCA, and said water safety is always a focus at the YMCA.
More information about how to try out for the team or sign up for lessons is available on the Park South YMCA website.