Official Newsletter of the President's Challenge


Participant Spotlight – Christopher Matthews

"Just Keep Swimming" – Setting and Achieving Goals

Swimming is a great aerobic activity. There are many benefits to the sport and it's a great way to earn points for PALA and the Presidential Champions Challenge. Swimming helps to:

  • Assist with skill development
  • Teach sportsmanship and goal-setting
  • Build strength and endurance
  • Improve flexibility and coordination
  • Increase circulation
  • Relieve stress and tension
  • Control and maintain a healthy weight
  • And more!

Check out this story from our participant of the month, Christopher Matthews, and the important lessons he learned through swimming.

Christopher Matthews is a sophomore at Mintz Christian Academy in North Carolina. Mintz
Christian Academy has been striving to challenge students in the area of physical fitness. When Christopher faced a major challenge this past summer, he decided to dive all the way in!

A group of friends got together at summer camp and set a goal of swimming a 2.6 mile course of the Neuse River. Christopher hadn't ever taken swimming lessons, and certainly never experienced the competitiveness of swimming on a team or against another student. But, he decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, after a few training sessions, many of the boys dropped out.

"Even though training was the hardest part", said Christopher, "I wanted to stick with it." He started out at a level four, which was considered the beginner's level. To compete, each swimmer had to meet level six. It took three weeks of getting up every single morning to swim, do push–ups, and other training activities for more than an hour and a half! There were some early mornings where Christopher thought to himself, "Why am I doing this?"

The reward came on the morning of the swim! Christopher had passed his wellness test and reached the goal of level six in training. Now, he had to swim nearly three miles in the second dirtiest river in North Carolina, a brackish body of water known to contain stinging jelly fish. The swimmers were up at 5:00am for directions and a light snack. By 6:00am, Christopher dove into the Neuse River and started a journey that he would never forget. Lifeguards were posted on boats along the river and many friends were swimming at a similar pace.

"It helped to have my friend keeping the same pace with me. I wasn't afraid, but I don't think I'd have done as well out there all alone," remembered Christopher. After two hours and twenty–eight minutes of non–stop swimming, Christopher lifted himself out of the water and adjusted to walking on dry ground again. He had accomplished his goal! He hadn't given up even when others said it was too difficult.

When asked if he would do it again, Christopher responded, "Yes, of course, but maybe not this year." He is now actively involved in soccer, basketball, and baseball at school and hopes to hit the track in the future. Students should be inspired by Christopher's example to get together and set a goal to accomplish something they've never before tried. Then, celebrate when that goal is triumphantly met!

Story Submitted By: Jennifer Oliver, Mintz Christian Academy

Become a President's Challenge Advocate

We are excited to be able to partner with so many outstanding organizations in an effort to encourage and recognize healthy habits – both eating and physical activity! Being a President's Challenge advocate has its perks:
  • Recognition on the President's Challenge website and in the Fitness is Fun newsletter
  • Easy-to-use online tools that engage your target audience to increase their physical activity and earn awards
  • Access to awards featuring the signature of the President of the United States
  • Use of the President's Challenge logo and materials
  • Special portal page with 100 or more participants that will allow seamless registration for group members (no need to remember a group name of ID number)

Becoming a President's Challenge advocate is easy. Simply visit our website and fill out our Advocate application form!