Potomac School junior establishes swim academy in South Africa | Sports

For Sasha Minsky, no service project to help others is too big or small to undertake.

Whether working in community gardens, volunteering at soup kitchens, collecting baseball equipment to send to players in South Africa or completing other independent projects, since a young age the Potomac School junior multi-sport high-school athlete developed a passion, then a mission, for such work.

“I’ve always loved doing service and volunteer work for people. It’s in my blood,” Minsky said.

This month, Minsky is taking on his biggest service project yet, and on the international stage. On Sunday, Jan. 22, he will launch a youth swim academy in impoverished Alexandra, South Africa, for youth ages 7 to 16, in hopes of preventing drownings that occur regularly in the township.

Minsky will travel to Alexandra later this month to overseas and officially kick off the Alexandra Youth Swim Academy.

Alexandra is a township with a population of 200,000, with many living in crowded huts within 2.7 square miles.

It is expected that some 200 youth swimmers will participate in the program. They also will become members of the Alexandra Sea Lions swim team that will be created, with the members receiving T-shirts and mesh swim bags.

“That’s an opportunity for all of them to feel good about being a part of something,” Minsky said.

The plan is for the academy to have two-hour teaching sessions each Sunday during the summer months in South Africa (which is now), and continue for years to come.

For months, Minsky worked with many others, “virtually” and by phone, to raise money, collect equipment, secure an outdoor swimming pool in the Alexandra area and find swim instructors for the academy.

“We had to connect and work with so many different people. Now I am super excited to go to South Africa for the first time,” Minsky said. “In Alexandra, a river runs right through the town there. So many young people drown because they don’t know how to swim. We want to change that and help them stay alive. We believe this academy will be uplifting to the lives of the Alexandra youth community.”

In 2019, Minsky created a program called Uplift Thru Sport. He collected baseball equipment and arranged for it to be shipped to the Alexandra Baseball Club in South Africa, but did not travel to South Africa that time.

By being involved in the baseball and swimming service projects, Minsky believes the youth of Alexandra will get to experience the value of physical fitness, competition and team play that will provide life-long benefits.

“This is not only fun, but also for survival,” Minsky said.

At Potomac School, Minsky ran for the conference and state-champion boys cross country team during this past fall’s season as the Panthers’ No. 2 runners. He is a freestyler on the boys swimming team during the winter months and is a distance runner on the outdoor track and field team in the spring.

During the summer, he’s a swimmer and assistant coach for the Great Falls Rapids team of the Northern Virginia Swimming League. Year-round he swims with the Nation’s Capital Swim Club, which has various locations in the DC area.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Alexandra Youth Swim Academy can do so by visiting www.upliftthrusport.com.

Comments are closed.