April 3, 2024

Nassau Swim Club Serves as Haven Where Children Can Be Themselves

To the Editor:

As I sit with Princeton University’s decision to terminate Nassau Swim Club’s lease, I find myself overwhelmed with feelings of grief knowing that the magic of Nassau is being killed. A core part of Nassau Swim Club has always been its swim and dive teams. Since the 1960s, Nassau has given children the opportunity to explore themselves through its low pressure competitive teams through participation in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) league.

I swam on the Nassau Swim Team from 2006 to 2019 and dove from 2009-2019. I have been coaching the swim team since 2019. Over the years, I have witnessed an incredibly unique and diverse community of people that has certainly morphed, but maintained its lively spirit. With members from all around the world due to Nassau’s close proximity to the Institute for Advanced Study, it is not uncommon to hear five different languages being spoken at the pool at any given time. Every year, new members approach me at the end of their first season explaining that they wish they’d learned about Nassau sooner. At Nassau, children are able to learn and play freely without worry of outside stressors. Every summer, I see countless children fall in love with swimming and diving, all the while discovering themselves and their passions.

Nassau is healing. With increasing rates of bullying and mental health issues among youth, Nassau serves as a safe haven for children who struggle, allowing them an accepting space to be fully themselves. Without the tight-knit community of Nassau and its teams, children will be robbed of positive childhood relationships and experiences. Because of Princeton’s decision, we are being evicted from our summer home, our safe place, and our wonderful teams are left homeless and split. Nassau Swim Club is more than a plot of land, it is competitive swimming and diving, friendship, acceptance, passion, spirit, and pure summer joy.

ONE we are the lemmings, TWO a little bit louder, THREE I still can’t hear you, FOUR MORE MORE MORE.

That is our cheer that children at Nassau have been enthusiastically chanting for more than 50 years. I use it as a reminder that we will not be silent. Our community deserves to live.

Rachel Adlai-Gail
Swim coach, Nassau Swim Club

Evans Drive, West Windsor