About Race Swami

Race Swami is a close-knit, community-driven swimming and enrichment program based in Rose Park and Glendale, west side boroughs in Salt Lake City. The vast majority of our participants come from the neighboring communities of Rose Park, Poplar Grove, Fairpark, Glendale, Guadalupe Park, and Central City. There are a growing number of families who reside outside these west side communities as well, including West Valley City and South Salt Lake.

Race Swami welcomes all youth, regardless of socioeconomic status. Our team is culturally and economically diverse. More than 75% of our members receive financial assistance and more than five languages are spoken within the Swami community.

Our Mission

Race Swami is a USA Swimming sanctioned program with the primary purpose of providing opportunities in swimming and enrichment to economically disadvantaged youth residing in the west-side neighborhoods of Salt Lake City and County. We empower youth to be champions, in and out of the water, by focusing on self-discipline, teamwork, and whole-body awareness.

Race Swami is a 501(c)(3) non profit club serving the Rose Park, Glendale, and neighboring communities of Salt Lake City's west side.

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Behind the Name

Since Race Swami's inception in 2011, many people have often asked, "what does the name mean?"

“Race Swami” stems from Head Coach Matt Finnigan's swimming days training under the late, legendary USA Swimming coach Kevin Perry (1951-2008). In the early ‘80s, "KP," as he was affectionately known, referred to his athletes as "Swamis," and as Finnigan explains it, "it was about mastering yourself, your life—not just in the water, but in everything you did. Life is really a learning experience as you move through it, regardless of your age. You're always in a position to learn. To ‘master.’ With KP, it was never meant to be a cultural or religious-minded term, but rather it was simply a fact that we were his 'Swamis' -- ready and willing to learn something new everyday we came to the pool deck. I loved that about KP, and that notion always stuck with me. He was an integral part of my life and he taught me so much about what it means to be a person willing to make a difference in life. Naturally, when we founded this program and composed the mission, it was only right that we pay respect to one of the finest coaches swimming has ever had."

"Race" was added to the name because of the love for racing. So too, it was to pay homage to arguably some of the greatest racers of all time—the members of Isamorada-based Race Club, a club founded by Olympian Gary Hall Sr. "At the end of the day," Finnigan said, "kids just want to race... they wanna see how fast they can go—whether they're racing the kid in the lane next to them, or the clock, or just racing themselves. Whatever the reason, they’re celebrating the spirit of racing! We wanted to reflect that, and so, a name was born."

As the team has grown, new athletes have joined the program. As is generally the case upon joining, kids are given a brief history of the team, the mission of the program, and the expectations of its members. That’s usually when new teammates learn about the origins of the name.


The Story Behind Our Fleur de Lis Symbol

Our fleur pays an ode to our fair lady, Lily Finnigan, who lives with a mitochondrial condition known as Mitochondria Complex-1. The logo symbolizes her perseverance. It harbors hope against the odds— it provides us solace that regardless of how adverse life may get, that we continue to learn.

So too, the logo stands for courage, commitment, and purpose (the three "points" on the flower). Every Swami — athlete, coach, parent, and/or booster — who accepts the responsibility of wearing the fleur of Race Swami formally commits to the expectations that go with wearing it: sportsmanship, honesty, integrity, poise, and selflessness.

We are proud of our Swamis and their commitment to upholding these standards, which are the heart of the Race Swami culture. We pledge that as we continue to “master the art of swimming” and thus, every aspect of our own respective lives-each of us will share and pass on our knowledge and gifts to those who are in need.

Make a Difference

This motto is printed on our green swim caps and accompanies most of our team gear. We believe in this philosophy and share it every day with our athletes. We also have a saying: "¡Sí Se Puede!" or, "Yes We Can!" We believe every member of our program can make a difference within this team, in their community, and perhaps most importantly, make a difference in the world! Yes We Can!

This six minute video was produced by Patrick Thompson and helps tell the story of why the founders and board members of Race Swami are passionate about "Making a Difference" in the lives of youth living in Salt Lake City's west side communities.