Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Swimmer Raises Funds to Teach Others

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Swimmer Raises Funds to Teach Others

Article excerpt

RIDGEWOOD -- Charlotte Samuels, the teenager who made headlines and broke a record when she swam the English Channel last month, turned a celebration Sunday into a fundraiser to help Paterson children learn how to swim.

The 16-year-old Ridgewood High School junior, who this year became the youngest person to complete the open-water swimming Triple Crown, and her parents invited more than 150 guests to an open house at their home in the village, where there was food including a huge congratulatory cake for Charlotte. The attendees included family, friends and mentors who helped Charlotte achieve her success in her demanding passion, long-distance swimming.

"We're doing the party to thank people," said Charlotte's mother, Suzanne Samuels.

The Samuels family also solicited donations for a cause close to their heart: Citizens for Swimming, a program in which Paterson youths are given swimming lessons at Graydon Pool in Ridgewood in the summer. This weekend's event raised more than $1,500 for Citizens for Swimming, according to a preliminary tally of in- person and online donations.

"This is absolutely found money for us," said the program's director, Dawn Walter of Ridgewood, who attended the celebration.

At the party, one of the Samuelses' neighbors, 75-year-old Tony La Femina, came up to Charlotte and handed her an envelope with a donation.

"My wife and I both grew up in Paterson, and we never learned how to swim," he told her. "We're just so happy that you're here and you've done what you've done. It's just amazing. I can't imagine, but I read all the stories."

"Thank you," said Charlotte, dressed in a black lace dress with tall brown boots, her dark hair flowing and free.

As part of the Citizens for Swimming initiative, Charlotte and her friend Becky Vidal, 16, of Ridgewood taught water safety to kids in Paterson.

"It's about water safety and practicality," said Charlotte, who also conducted swimming lessons for the program.

Citizens for Swimming is a partnership of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood and Paterson's Community Association with a Ministry to People Youth Development Program, or CAMP YDP. …

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