“We Got Better”: Community Partners’ Perceptions of an Out-of-School Swimming Program for Underserved Children and Youth


  • Daniela M. Susnara The University of Alabama
  • M. D. Curtner-Smith The University of Alabama




community partnerships, out-of-school time programs, swim lessons, water safety, community engagement


The purpose of this study was to describe community partners’ (CPs) perceptions of an out-of-school swimming program (OSSP) for under­served children and youth. Participants were four CPs associated with the OSSP during three consecutive summers and parents of the children and youth who participated in the program. We employed a theoretical perspective derived from the literature on community-engaged scholarship and worked within the interpretive paradigm through a descriptive case study design. We collected data with five qualitative techniques. They were analyzed through analytic induction and constant comparison. Key findings were that CPs found the OSSP to be relevant, to have a high level of reciprocity, and to be resilient. The OSSP was shown to counter structural, institutional, personal, and cultural barriers that limited underserved children’s and youth’s access to and value of swimming. The research and assessment data generated during the OSSP led to little reflection or program improvement. Others aiming to design similar programs may benefit from examining the organizational structure and content of the OSSP.

Author Biographies

Daniela M. Susnara, The University of Alabama

College of Education, Department of Kinesiology

M. D. Curtner-Smith, The University of Alabama

College of Education, Department of Kinesiology