Brenda Villa and Skylar Dorosin
You might think that after 20 World Championship medals, 4 of them in the Olympics, and subsequently becoming the Most Decorated Female Water Polo Player in history, Brenda Villa would take a long vacation. Instead, Brenda teamed up with Stanford student Skylar Dorosin who had the idea to launch Project 2020, bringing the joy of swimming to under-served neighborhoods in California.
In many neighborhoods around America, families don’t have the extra funds needed to pay for swim lessons and this results in higher rates of drowning. By reducing the costs and increasing the access to local swimming facilities and lessons, Brenda and Skylar have made a huge difference in saving and enhancing the lives of thousands of families.
Skylar grew up in Palo Alto, CA and attended Palo Alto High School where she discovered a great inequality when it comes to swimming facilities and access. In the fall of 2008, Skylar envisioned Project 2020 and reached out to Brenda to help make it happen. After all, this Olympian has her own bathing suit, with her own picture on it – how Boss can you get?
Together, the two raised money and awareness and Project 2020 became a reality.
I am proof that giving kids the opportunity to learn to swim and introducing them to a new sport can inspire big results. Something like attending college, which is a given in a number of families, is only a dream in others. I grew up in the city of Commerce, a lower income community with a powerful secret weapon. The city sponsors all of the sports programs in Commerce; this allows each child in the community to participate at a very low cost. My mother signed me up for swim lessons because she wanted her children to feel safe and comfortable in the water — a feeling she did not have as a child. When I joined the swim team and water polo team at the age of 8, she had no idea that it would lead me to Stanford University and 4 Olympic appearances. She was willing to take a chance to get her kids involved in something new and she watched as her daughter grew into a confident, disciplined young person.