For three consecutive summers, Palmetto High School senior Darby Chait volunteered her time to help kids learn to swim at the Lou Manganiello Aqua Kids Sharks Summer Camp at Westminster Christian.
“I worked through all ages up to 14,” Chait says. “The higher levels wanted to be competitive swimmers,” she says, noting that the younger kids just wanted to learn how to swim. When they weren’t in the water, she helped the kids with arts and crafts projects and played games with them on the field.
“We would break it up and they would get free play,” she says. “The last hour they had free play with the lifeguards watching. One summer I worked as a lifeguard there.”
Chait swims competitively for the Metro Aquatics Club based at Tamiami Park. “I swim short distance free style,” she says.
This year Chait was captain of the Palmetto High girls’ swim team. The team had a good season that was capped with having two girls go on to compete in the state championship swim meet. Although she loves swimming, Chait says she will not compete for a college team because she wants to focus on her studies, though she may swim for a club team.
“I grew up with it, it’s kind of like the only thing I’ve done and I’ve grown to love it,” she says. It’s exercise and I’ve learned organizational skills and how to make myself a stronger person. Hopefully, I’ll be open to new experiences and find something else I’m passionate about. But that’s why I’m swimming club, so I can continue to have the sport in my life.”
Now that her high school swimming days are over, Chait has a little more time to concentrate on her other school activities. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and the Health Information Project. Many days, she spends two to three hours after school reviewing the information they teach to freshmen.
“Once every two weeks, we go to classrooms all day and teach kids how to keep their bodies healthy and how to have selfesteem,” she says.
Last year Chait was a math mentor and helped many classmates by tutoring them in math.
“I enjoy helping kids, help them better their lives and they can follow me as an example,” she says. “I really enjoyed it and I became close with the students.”
This summer, Chait created a program to collect magazines and donate them to a library.
“I was browsing through the Internet and I came across this charity,” she says. “I really enjoy reading and I loved my collection and I thought I’m going away, so I should just donate the magazines to children.”
The project was done through the Magazine Publishers Family Literacy program. The program donates the magazines to certain charities and homeless shelters.
“I just had to alphabetize them and put them in boxes and ship them. I collected around 500 magazines,” she says. “I had a collection of Seventeen Magazine. I wanted to donate them because they gave me great advice.”
Chait would like to attend to the University of Florida, but she is also considering the University of Miami and the larger Florida state universities.
“I want to go into psychology and hopefully get into a medical school,” she says. “I want to be psychiatrist.”
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld