What was the saying? Blacks can’t swim.
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are making sure that the saying stays true, because as of now, there is only one HBCU with a swim team: Howard University.
It’s a shame, too, because a few weeks ago, we were all excited that Black girls wanted to swim AND keep their edges at North Carolina A&T, but the continuation of that legacy has slowly died down.
Howard University is the only HBCU with a men and women’s swim team, but there are no HBCU rivals, anymore. According to the Washington Post, about 20 percent of the Division I Black swimmers come from either North Carolina A&T or Howard. Isn’t that a shame? We’re looking for representation in the arts because we find them in abundance in sports, but not in swimming.
“From the surface level, people say I should be happy: Now your rival is no longer. But would Carolina be happy if Duke shut their basketball program down?” asks Howard Head Coach Nic Askew.
Askew has created a swimming sponsor program and he plans to collaborate with USA Swimming for a spring clinic for Howard faculty and staff after the season finishes.
Based on a national study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis, 70 percent of Black children have low or no swimming ability compared to 40 percent of their white peers. African-American kids ages 5 to 14 also have a drowning fatality rate of almost three times that of their white peers.
“We have to continue to push for our program to be in existence so we can be an example,” says Askew. “At the end of the day, at Howard we want to be an example of why you should have a program—because we have success stories. We are a case study for how it can work.”
Well, thanks to Howard University for recognizing the importance of swimming in the Black community, and continue to prosper.
(Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post via Getty Images)