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By East Dockery and Macy Brandon

At the 2016 US Olympic Trials, only two African American swimmers competed. In an article by The New York Times, a person stated that he was blown away to see a total of three African American swimmers on the U.S. Olympic team over the years.

The UNC-Chapel Hill women’s swim team in the 2016-2017 school year included only three swimmers of color out of 30.

The lack of African American swimmers is a common problem seen throughout the high school and summer swim leagues. And beyond that, statistics show that many African American children cannot swim.

As two Chuck Stone scholars who are swimmers on varsity High School teams, we are sharing our stories.

East Dockery of Ragsdale High School

Q: How many swimmers are on your team, and how many are African American, or a person of color?

A: On my high school swim team, there are three people of color out of 35, including me, one boy and two girls.

Q: Have you ever felt disconnected from the team because of that?

A: Yes and no. Being that I’m one of the more experienced swimmers on my high school team, I have a different attitude about swimming because Ihave been around it longer than they have. So, the disconnect of ambition is there, but there is no disconnect of support because we are teammates.

Q: How would you encourage diversity in swimming?

A: I would encourage diversity in swimming by doing more ads with swimmers such as Cullen Jones and Simone Manuel and also holding swim lessons and building more pools in low-income areas so children can learn how to swim.0

Q: Will you swim at the collegiate level? Why or why not?

A: If I receive a scholarship, then yes. If not, I do not plan on swimming at the collegiate level because I would like to enjoy my college experience. I am also looking at HBCUs which do not typically have a swim team.

Macy Brandon of EC Glass High School

Q: What’s the ratio of people of color and non-color on your swim team?

A: I am part of two swim teams: my high school team and a summer league. On the school team, I would say that out of about 35 swimmers, there are about three swimmers of color every year. On my summer league, I am the only one.

Q: Do people of color (often) attend your swim meets?

A: Besides my family in the stands – not really. The other swimmers of color on my team do not typically attend the meets or many practices, so after my sister graduated from high school and the team, I was the only person of color who was typically on deck. And I can only recall two meets where I saw one other African American swimmer from the opposing team.

Q: Do people of color at your school talk about and/or show interest in swimming?

A: Not really. The bigger sports that are talked about by people of color are football, basketball, and track and field. Swimming does not make much conversation because not a lot of people understand it, and our meets are at the same time as basketball games so that is an obvious distraction.

Q: Will you swim at the collegiate level? Why or why not?

A: No. I started swimming at a slightly later age than most because my mom had always talked about how she did not know how to swim, so she really wanted my sister and me to have that knowledge. She never expected us to take it to the next level and compete. I view swimming as a good way to exercise and be more involved with the people in my school, but not as a future.