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Old 03-16-2009
naj naj is offline
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Default Black Splash: The History of African- American Swimmers

Hello Everyone, as many of you know in this forum my overriding goal is to not only teach low income African American youth to swim but also -- hopefully -- develop competitive swimmers in the sport we all love so much. But I've been thinking that one thing that these young women and men need is a history lesson about the accomplishments that African Americans have done regrading swimming. From an unknown slave in 1679 who was on a slave ship that sank and swam for 60...yes 60...hours to shore! Or, as so many of us know, "The Underground Railroad" is associated with Harriet Tubman. But did you know the name came from a slave named Tice Davids. Davids escaped from Kentucky in 1831 and swam across the Ohio river to Ripley, Ohio. As the legend goes, Davids owner was chasing him in a boat when he lost sight of his slave. Assuming that Davids had drowned, he remarked to his companion in the boat that he must have taken an "underground railroad."

Click on this link and read about the astonishing history of Blacks in swimming; the heroism, myths, and one of the main reasons why folks from my heritage stopped swimming as a result of fear tactics.

In Struggle to make swimming possible for all,

Naji
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Old 03-16-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Interesting read.

With all the friends my son hangs out with, ranging in age from 6 to 13, I have yet to find a kid interested in swimming beyond splashing in the water occasionally. Same with the adults. People of various genetic mixes, not just generic white or black. Of course, one thing we all have in common is our local culture and environment.
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Old 03-16-2009
naj naj is offline
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Originally Posted by shuumai View Post
Interesting read. With all the friends my son hangs out with, ranging in age from 6 to 13, I have yet to find a kid interested in swimming beyond splashing in the water occasionally. Same with the adults. People of various genetic mixes, not just generic white or black. Of course, one thing we all have in common is our local culture and environment.
Yeah Shuumai same here. It drives me nuts. But then again I have to meet people where they are and not where I want them to be. I've been making good in-roads to Black Swim Clubs across the country and I've realized that back East there are far more programs for African Americans than out in my neck of the woods, but I plan on changing that :)
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Old 03-16-2009
AWP AWP is offline
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naj
You may have visited already but in case you haven't, or anyone else, www.swimfoundation.org reminded me of you and your quest. Click on Make A Splash then video gallery, enjoy.
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Old 03-16-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Originally Posted by naj View Post
Yeah Shuumai same here. It drives me nuts. But then again I have to meet people where they are and not where I want them to be. I've been making good in-roads to Black Swim Clubs across the country and I've realized that back East there are far more programs for African Americans than out in my neck of the woods, but I plan on changing that :)
This should help you with your quest: "NBC has agreed to televise [the 2009] World Swimming Championships from Rome, along with the 2009, 2010 and 2011 national championships."

http://www.nbcolympics.com/swimming/...id=246139.html
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Old 03-16-2009
naj naj is offline
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AWP I saw this site but thank you anyway. They are in Oakland, CA and the kids really seem to be taking to the program. Boy, I wish they had something like this when I was a kid!

Shuumai, this is great news! I'll be glued to my tiny 13 inch set watching and hoping that someday I can see a boy or gilr I helped train get there.
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Old 03-16-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Shuumai, this is great news! I'll be glued to my tiny 13 inch set watching and hoping that someday I can see a boy or girl I helped train get there.
Sounds good. (Maybe get a TV tuner for your computer so you can have a larger screen. hehe)

I was thinking. The logistics of swimming seems to be an obstacle, especially for females. Hair, body, suit, privacy, coldness, goggles. Even adults who have swum as teens seems to struggle with some of these things.

Some of those problems could be addressed the way they are in England. Private changing booths--that's a big one. Coin operated heat booth for drying off or warming up. Free or coin operated hair dryers. Coin operated lockers that give the coin back. Pools at which you can just walk in and pay a reasonable fee. Pool that have some entertainment features like a wave machine, sprinklers, or rapids.

At least where I go there are semi-private showers. Meaning, you get a curtain.
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Old 03-16-2009
CoachBetsy CoachBetsy is offline
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Great thread to get started. I had the good fortune to see Bruce Wigo give a presentation on the topic of diversity in swimming at the USSSA conference in February (he was standing in for John Cruzat, who was slated to present on the same topic but was unable to be there). In presenting a historical evolution of the sport from ancient to modern times, it was clear how cultural/political agendas have created sometimes intentional stereotypes about blacks and women in the sport. "Modest" female swimming costumes made anything other than splashing around and waist-deep wading downright dangerous, and public swimming pools were legally racially segregated until the 1960's (after which point de facto segregation has continued, as well as disparity in the quality of facilities).
Women have come a long way due to the popular knowledge of modern female stars in the sport, and I hope someone like Cullen Jones will spawn many imitators.

For example:
Annette Kellerman, the real life "Million Dollar Mermaid" portrayed by Esther Williams in the movie, attempted the Channel 3 times, sported one of the first one-piece unitard swimsuits (which she made herself), and went on to have a massive influence on the popularity and acceptance of women in swimming.

Here is a link to the NY Times obit for Gertrude Ederle, a 19 yr old who smashed the records of all the previous 5 male swimmers of the English Channel in 1926. She was the guest of honor at the first-ever ticker tape parade in NYC, attended by an astounding 2 million people.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...3&pagewanted=1
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Old 03-16-2009
naj naj is offline
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Coach Betsy, the misconceptions that have lingered in our beloved sport have really prevented a lot of folks from getting into the water. As you mentioned pools became de-segregated in the 60s but to this day de-facto segregation whether by subtle intimidation (i.e power structures not making facilities available in low-income communities) or self-segregation (Blacks buying into the notion we can't swim), have all made our communities less safe for folks to venture into the pool without important life skills.

The gender issue has always been a big one as well. For instance, I recall speaking to a couple of guys at my local pool about some of the women who workout there. I commented that their form and technique showed they had a lot of experience in competition. One man, followed up with, "yeah and the blond has a great a@# too!" I told him that had nothing to do with anything and that if he and the woman were to race she'd blow him out of the water. His response was typical of a neanderthal, "well at least I can enjoy viewing her butt in front of me!"

But aside from the above experiences that try my patience to no end, I'm encouraged by the folks that I've met so far here on the forum and those TI coaches I've met in person. I must say that as an African American swimmer my guard is always up with this issue, but honestly I've felt strong encouragement from folks here and have had great advice from a number of you.

We still have a long way to go in blowing apart the notion that certain ethnic groups can't do this or that, but discussions like these are a way to get things started.

Hmmm, now all I need to do is find a couple of champion swimmers and I'll be able to take on some coach named Bob Bowman character who has a kid he trained that won a couple medals at some meet somewhere...gees where did I hear that...hmmm...oh well it'll come to me later :)

Last edited by naj : 03-16-2009 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 03-16-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachBetsy View Post
"Modest" female swimming costumes made anything other than splashing around and waist-deep wading downright dangerous...
And now males are copying female suit styles. I'm thinking of the armless body suits, but you could also include some of the patterns on regular swimwear.

(Personally, as a male, I'm grateful for the "advances" in female suit design. hehe)
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