Philadelphia-Area Swim Club Accused of Racial Discrimination

A private swim club in suburban Philadelphia allegedly discriminated against minority children from a city day camp, denying the campers re-entry amid claims of racism, camp officials claim.

Alethea Wright, executive director of Creative Steps Inc., told that the camp's check for $1,950 was returned after just one 90-minute session on June 29 at the Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley.

"I get a phone call from the board chair saying, 'You're no longer going to be able to swim here,'" said Wright, adding that she was not given a specific reason. "The other members were taking their children out while our children were swimming."

Wright said several African-American children of the 65 participants in her program allegedly overheard a Caucasian woman complaining about their presence at the pool.

John Duesler, president of the swim club, told FOX 29 in Philadelphia that the club "underestimated the impact the children would have." They "fundamentally changed the atmosphere" at the pool, he said.

Duesler insisted that race had "nothing" to do with the club's decision to rescind the summer-long agreement, but admitted that several club members had complained about the group. Duesler said those complaints were not race-related.

Camp officials, meanwhile, are not convinced.

"If the children didn't misbehave, we paid our membership in full, here's the check to prove it, what else could it be? We were the only minorities there,” Wright told

Parents and staff members at the day care are reportedly considering legal action against the swim club. Camp officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday and a voicemail box at the swim club was full.

The club sits on more than 10 acres of land and a houses a 110,000-gallon pool, according to its Web site. A single membership at the club, chartered in 1954, is $395 per year.

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