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Blacks Lack in Swimming: Why?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Despite several youth swimming programs scattered across the nation and millions of dollars invested in these programs to attract aspiring black Olympians, there were only seven African Americans who could qualify to compete against the 455 swimmers at the 1996 Olympic trials. That number didn't improve proportionally 12 years later in 2008 either. Basketball, check. Tennis, check. Golf, check. But swimming? No, not even a little bit.
Do blacks even swim like that? Certainly, they do.
"Jay Brown is 9 years old.
Son of a former professional football player, Jay is a swimming phenom for the Atlanta Dolphins, the 2nd largest black swim team in the nation. You haven't heard of him, but his name is growing, and it'll be mainstream soon.
Byron Davis, 30, who in 1996 was three-tenths of a second short of becoming the first African-American to make the Olympic team. Today, you are more likely to catch him scuba diving or sailing since he doesn't swim competitively anymore. Still Davis is a legend in modern African-American swimming.
In 2004 Maritza Correia took home a silver medal. In 2000, Anthony Irvin won the gold. Still the sport's black faces are underrepresented nationally.
Many black swimmers are actually cross-trainers, they perform in other sports as well. Nine-year-old Jay Brown is good at football and basketball. The person who broke down the barrier for black swimming was
Anthony Ervin of Valencia, Calif., a sprinter. Ervin in 2000 became the first swimmer of African-American heritage to make the U.S. Olympic team, setting a short-course world record of 21.21 to win the 50 free at the 2000 NCAAs.
Micheal Norment, a University of Georgia graduate, owns the distinction of being the first African-American swimmer to make the Olympic team in 1997.
Sabir Muhammad is another notable name in black swimming. Muhammad is arguably the today's most active proponent for black swimming. He is the founder of Swim for Life!, a program dedicated to teaching Atlanta inner-city kids how to swim. The first black swimmer to compete for Stanford University in 1994, Muhammad once set the American short-course record in the 100m butterfly.
Speaking of history, Suriname's Anthony Nesty was the first black person to win a Olympic gold medal. Will blacks ever reach the surface in swimming, ever break through to the top? We'll see.


Hayseed said...

hi, i am producing a feature length documentary film that features Maritza Correia and Cullen Jones, and includes many of the people you just wrote about, and more. It's called Parting the Waters -- here's the website, where you can see a trailer.

We wrapped shooting, and are in post-production -- editing and raising finishing funds.

Jenny Levison, Do Tell Productions

October 30, 2008 at 10:24 PM
Craigjc said...

Wow, I checked out the site. It's awesome. If you need a writer, I'd volunteer to help this project, just let me know!

October 31, 2008 at 7:17 AM

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