Meet the 14-year-old swimmer named the 2019 Children’s Mercy Rising Star Award winner

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- At 7 years old Sania Cay had never stepped foot in the water. A local at the Boys & Girls Club Thornberry Unit, Sania participated in plenty of sports but swimming was not on the list of activities she planned to try. Initially, Cay was skeptical about the possibility of swimming since no one in her family had any experience in the pool. It was not until the Aquatics Director, Kimmer Songer, convinced her to try it out that she first got into the water. A couple weeks of training led to months, and Sania began to show glimpses of greatness but not without struggle.

As a young African American girl, Cay often finds herself the minority in the pool and would frequently have to swim against the boys. Although the challenge was daunting, it never stopped her from diving in head first. She continues to break barriers and lead by example, inspiring young swimmers, regardless of race or gender, to follow their passion. Now 14 years old, Sania is swimming competitively with dreams of being an Olympian and serving as a role model to dozens of young girls at the Boys and Girls Clubs around Kansas City.

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