A private suburban swim club rocked by allegations of racism is still waiting to hear if a premoninantly black and Hispanic Philadelphia day camp will accept its invitation to return.

Valley Club president John Duesler said today that club members had voted overwhelmingly to reinvite the day camp students who had earlier been asked not to return.

Related stories

"We realized it was the right thing to do," Duesler said today in the club's Lower Moreland driveway.

After he and other club officers endured withering criticism for revoking contracts that allowed dozens of children to swim at the club, Duesler said the board unanimously recommended to reinvite the groups. At a general meeting Sunday for the club's 150 member families, there was only one vote against the idea.

"It was nearly unanimous," Duesler said.

But the camp director Alethea Wright indicated last night in an interview with CNN that the offer was too late.

"How can I take those children back there?" she said.

Duesler said the immense, worldwide publicity given to the matter had compelled Valley Club to reconsider, but repeatedly said the club's intentions had been misunderstood.

"This is the saddest week of my life," Duesler said. "Everything I stand for and everything this club represents has been turned on its head."

Although his preliminary talks with Wright, executive director of Creative Steps day camp, included discussion of about 60 children coming to the pool, Duesler said he had decided to take a wait-and-see position on safety concerns.

Instead, when the group came to Valley Club June 29, club members fled the pool, and some were heard making racial comments, Wright and others have said.

Duesler said today he has not heard back from Wright, but hopes the group will return and help forge an agreement that won't overwhelm pool capacity.

He said he has not yet been in touch with two other day camps whose contracts were similarly refunded, but will directly reinvite them soon.