In 1971, Jim Ellis founded an African American swim team called PDR. The initials stood for both Philadelphia Department of Recreation, and also Pride Determination Resilience. His story is chronicled in the feature film ‘Pride.’ In 2007, Jim Ellis received the Presidential Honor Award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
More than 40 years later, Jim Ellis is still at it. He is head coach of the Salvation Army Kroc Aquatics (SAKA), Philadelphia’s premiere competitive swimming program. SAKA practices in the Salvation Army’s Philadelphia based Kroc Center, a pool which Ellis was instrumental in designing.
The annual SAKA swim meet held during President’s Day weekend is a must for young Black swimmers. Black Kids Swim attended the meet in 2017 and had the opportunity to ask Ellis his opinion on developing elite Black swimmers, what parents should consider when choosing a swim team, and what is needed to truly diversify the sport of swimming.