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St. Philip’s College Offers Swimming Lessons this Summer

St. Philip’s College was one of the few places during the time of segregation where African Americans had access to community pools and swimming lessons. William Allen Hudgins, for whom the college health and wellness center is named, taught 3,000 Black children from San Antonio’s Eastside how to swim. 

This summer, St. Philip’s College, part of the Alamo Colleges, hopes to teach many more children to swim through the Kids’ Academy summer camps, which are in partnership with the YMCA. 

St. Philip’s College Director of Institutional Advancement Dr. Sharon Crockett-Ray, shared her experience as a ten-year-old taking swim lessons with Hudgins.

“In 1969, my siblings and I used to walk to St. Philip’s College in our swimwear carrying a towel and 75 cents our mom had given us to eat a hamburger and fries from the cafeteria. Coach Hudgins was a gentle giant, but he was serious about teaching us. I think he knew how important it was for us to learn how to swim. He even taught some kids how to be junior lifeguards,” said Crockett-Ray.

Even today, differences in access to swimming lessons continue to be a barrier for African Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning death rates for Black Americans were 28% higher in 2021 than in 2019, and 63% of Black adults have never taken a swimming lesson. While segregation and lack of access are no longer barriers, the legacy of each still impacts the community.

Lessons will be held on campus in the William Allen Hudgins Health and Wellness Building from June 3 through July 26.To learn more about the Kids’ Academy and for a full schedule, visit (

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