Swim team book drive

A few Clemson Club Swim Team members left to right: Scott Eibel, Gretchen Stelter, Madeleine Franchi, Taylor Lawson, Emilie LaPlante, Kobie Moore, Owen Withycombe.
Image Credit: Ken Scar

Taylor Lawson is so competitive that competing in Clemson’s Club Swimming team isn’t enough to satisfy her. She learned there are different tiers ranging from white to orange for club teams, so she wants orange, and she wants to be the orange-tier team with the most points. So now she’s competing across sports.

But mainly, she wants to knock Club Track off its pedestal. She says they’re always the points leader.

Points are decided by several factors, from participation in leadership events to community service. As a College of Education student, Lawson sees the value in encouraging college students to outdo one another with good deeds in the community, so she wanted to come up with something that fell in line with her future career as an educator.

The book drive Lawson recently organized not only put Club Swimming on the path to becoming an orange-tier club team, it put much-needed books in the hands of students at a local school. She learned that when you can visualize the outcome, the details of the journey can sometimes just work themselves out.

Swim team

Members of the Clemson Club swim team show off some of the books they collected during a recent book drive.
Image Credit: Ken Scar

“I didn’t have many ideas at first and I was kind of stuck, but I knew some schools don’t have many books and rely on donations to get them,” Lawson said. “I’m a strong believer that reading helps all students improve their ability to learn across all subjects.”

Through her connections in club sports, Lawson encouraged students to bring as many books as they could to a swim meet in early November at Swann Fitness Center at Fike. A large table near the pool quickly filled with over 100 books, and luckily no pages were sullied with chlorinated water.

It was only after Lawson crammed every book into her car that she realized they needed a place to go. For the next three months, wherever Lawson would go, books featuring Disney princesses and Dr. Seuss characters went with her.

“I knew that if I took them out of my car I would just have to put them back in, and I didn’t have any space in my house,” Lawson said, laughing. “I had to figure out where they were going.”

Lawson reached out to leadership in the College of Education in order to find a worthy school for the books, and they quickly connected her with an upstate school that had to recently dispose of many out-of-date books that had become irrelevant to the school’s age groups. Lawson said it was great for her and her fellow teammates to deliver the books and help to fill some of the library’s bare shelves.

“I hope to keep this up for the team and also because all schools really need books,” Lawson said. “It felt really awesome to do it.”