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Making it safe to get back in the water

October 9, 2010

It’s not often that I find myself awake past 11 pm but on the rare occasion that the insomnia demons plague me, I lay in bed and watch television. The other night I was battling said demons when I came across a repeat broadcast of the U.S. National Swimming Championships.

Back in my glory days of high school (maybe it should be glory daze…) I was a strong competitive swimmer and I still have a passion for the sport so I was very excited to come across all my favorite athletes at 2 o’clock in the morning. As I was settling in to watch Michael Phelps kick some butt, a commercial came on for Conoco Phillips, except that they weren’t advertising anything – they were emphasizing the importance of teaching children how to swim.

I had no idea that drowning was the second-leading cause of accidental death among children. Where I grew up, everyone joined the neighborhood pool and we went there everyday during the summers. Back then I was oblivious to the fact that the human landscape at my pool didn’t include any other ethnicities. As it turns out, learning to swim is a huge challenge for minorities, due to a lack of access to a pool and lessons.

In attempt to reduce this problem, Conoco Phillips has made a charitable donation to the Make a Splash initiative to help bring swimming lessons to less-fortunate children. Conoco Phillips is also a long-time sponsor of the U.S. National Swim Team and is utilizing Cullen Jones, an African-American gold medal-winning member of the 2008 Olympic team, to help spread the word. Cullen almost drowned when he was five years old and learned to swim as a result of that incident, never dreaming that he would win Olympic gold in China. Talk about pulling at my heartstrings!! The commercial ran several times throughout the competition and each time I saw it, I felt more and more inspired and impressed by Conoco Phillips’ efforts.

In my opinion, the PR team at Conoco Phillips should be the ones winning a gold medal. They are not only sponsoring the U.S. National Swim Team (which is awesome) but they are finding ways to save the lives of children who would otherwise be at risk of never learning to swim. For all intents and purposes, it truly seems like they are dong their part to create a fully-functioning society; they are giving back to the community and raising awareness of a serious issue while simultaneously earning the trust of the public and getting their name back on the table in the wake of the BP fallout.

It seems like it’s becoming harder and harder to find a good company that communicates well and strives to improve the community but Conoco Phillips has given me a reason to hope that all is not lost in today’s business-driven society. Obviously I’m a little biased because this campaign is all about swimming but for me, they are the sun poking through the rainclouds, making it safe to get back in the water.

Here is the commercial I saw. I’m hoping it makes you feel just as warm and fuzzy (and ready to swim some laps) as I do.

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