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Local Leaders, Filmmaker Swim For A Cause

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – City and county commissioners and a local filmmaker stripped down and faced off to raise money for families in Coconut Grove to swim this summer for free.

Before the competition even began, Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff was preparing for the battle ahead of him.

"They said X has been training here for six months," said Sarnoff.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez called upon Sarnoff to be his teammate, to face off against his son, Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez, and Miami filmmaker Billy Corben, who is a self-professed "hell of a doggy paddler," in a swim relay challenge at Elizabeth Virrick Park in Coconut Grove.

"I just want to hold Miami's end up. I don't want to lose," said Sarnoff.

The ref was worried, warning that any excessive splashing would be assumed as a call for assistance and that he would have the lifeguard come retrieve the participants.

The trash talk was plentiful, with Corben especially cracking jokes about the swim-off.

"Only in Miami do politicians have a topless press conference," said Corben.

But the cause was clear.

Each relay participant kicked in $1,000 to cover the costs of families swimming at the park this summer. The park charges $1 dollar per child and $3 per adult.

The cost meant some of Kelis Owens friends couldn't swim with her in the past.

"It's a couple of kids that come to the park and play with me, and I say I'm getting in the pool and they'll say my mom doesn't have time for that or she can't pay for that," said Owens. "It made me sad because I wish I could pay for them."

Corben also criticized the very commissioners who invited him to take part in the fundraiser.

"I think the county commission and city commission needs to spend a lot more time focusing on kids and parks and less time on zoning and giving money away to billionaire and millionaire developers," said Corben.

All is fair in a swimming war. And the teams took it seriously.

Corben and the elder Suarez kicked it off, furiously gliding their way to their partners. Sarnoff and Francis Suarez swam their hearts out, until their muscles screamed.

Though it was close, there can only be one winning team and Suarez and Corben were it.

"The real winners are the kids of Coconut Grove," said Francis Suarez.

At the last-minute, South Florida rapper and community activist Luther Campbell kicked in $1,000 as well.

In all, the group raised $ 5,000 so residents can swim for free in Coconut Grove.

Commissioners said they now plan to focus on raising more money for swim programs, so more kids, especially those in low-income areas can learn how to swim for free.

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