PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – A local swimmer, Blair Wootson, is looking to promote diversity in aquatics with his “Swim 50 for Change” challenge.
Wootson’s idea for the challenge arose last summer with political unrest and social and racial injustice issues taking place in America.
His main goal in promoting change is to see more diversity in swimming, as well as all aquatic sports, but he says the challenge can be used for any cause.
“Swim 50 for change isn’t just, it wasn’t just for the Black Lives Matter movement,” Wootson said. “It can be Save the Turtles, Save the Whales, stop polluting, climate change.
“When I’m doing the swim 50 for change, I just think about how, what this person wants to make a difference in,” Wootson said. “Sometimes I ask them, ‘Hey what did you want to make a difference in the world?’ and they tell me, and I was like, ‘Oh that’s good,’ because I want everyone to make a difference in the world, and to, if it’s not to corny, make a splash.”
Wootson’s challenge, which he began last summer, went viral and many people all over the world, including famous athletes followed his lead.
“Soon enough, olympians were doing it, like Cullen Jones and Caroline Burkle,” Wootson said. Nathan Adrian hasn’t done it yet, but hopefully he might.”
Word of the challenge spread so far that Wootson was nominated for the Cullen Jones Aquatic Athlete of the year, and award given to someone who exemplifies what diversity in aquatics is striving for.
The other nominees included Giles Smith, a Pan American swimmer, and Jamal Hill, a Paralympic swimmer. Hill won the award but Wootson was very proud of his nomination.
In addition to his advocacy, he holds multiple records for the Panama City Swim Team and the fastest time for his age in the region. He also won 6 gold medal at a competition and his coach, Collin Burchins, says there is no ceiling for Wootson’s career.
“I hate to kind of put this notion out there for someone this age,” Burchins said. “But I wouldn’t say that anything on a national level, or an Olympic or international level is really out of the picture.”