How one girl is inspiring stereotypes by teaching Black people to swim

At last summers Olympic Games in Tokyo, the USA swim team took 53 athletes. Just three of the swimmers were Black.

Much has been written more or less the nonappearance of diversity in the pool, but for swim scholarly Paulina Lemonier, harmful stereotypes distract from tackling the real reasons astern the imbalance.

It’s in addition to, why don’t enough Black people learn how to swim? Because you dock’s created that look for us, Lemonier, the founder of Black People Will Swim, tells Yahoo Life. There’s that nonexistence of affordability  classes are costly  nonappearance of representation and the admission to pools.

As a New York indigenous, Lemonier attended swim lessons as a kid, and relearned the realization taking into account she went to scarf professor. Determined to prove herself concerning the literacy’s swim team, Lemonier attended swim practice diligently, even during the off season. Her dedication caught the attention of her coaches, who took her knocked out their wing and encouraged her to activate teaching.

I became an handbag in crime in crime coach. I was teaching the 5- to 7-year-olds how to swim, and subsequently I took my talents to the YMCA where I in fact studious how to calm people in belittle income communities, says Lemonier.

In 2019, the USA Swimming Foundation found that 64 percent of Black children have no or low swimming feat, compared to 40 percent of white kids. Inspired by the nonappearance of representation in the pool, Lemonier tweeted her strive for of teaching 30 Black people to swim by the fall of 2019. The tweet went viral and she usual hundreds of replies, easily achieving her set sights on. Along the mannerism, she furthermore discovered the reasons why some of her students never moot how to swim.

I intention the stereotype that Black people don’t know how to swim because our bones are too dense. It was said re national television from the vice president of the LA Dodgers, says Lemonier, referring to the controversial comments from Al Campania in 1987.

They don’t know how to swim because they were just taught to purpose certain from the water. Their parents didn’t know how to swim. So their parents are furthermore than, l don’t know how to swim, I’m not going to put you in a matter where that would endanger you and myself.

(Photo: Petrov Denis)

Lemonier believes teaching Black people to swim is as an combat of resistance. (Photo: Petercov Denis)

Additionally, Lemonier attributes the nonappearance of swim recommendation in Black communities to systemic structures that exist in many cities in the region of America. Public pools were legally segregated in the United States until July 19, 1950. That segregation led to surgically remove but unequal facilities, and along with it done, an even deeper divide emerged.

In New York records, there’s a event called white flight. So as more Black people started down into the cities, the affluent plentiful people, white people, would touch out to Eastern Long Island, says Lemonier. They’re building their own country clubs, they ‘concerning building and creating their own private pools. So New York City pools in Black or minority neighborhoods are not kept and maintained in the associated ways as white country clubs out East, says Lemonier.

Today, the CDC reports that Black children ages 10-14 years pass drown at rates 7.6 times sophisticated in swimming pools than white children. The statistics function in that that the Black experience has never been prioritized in swimming, as a consequences Lemonier has made that her mission. Last March, she launched Black People Will Swim, an giving out created to collision stereotypes and empower Black swimmers.

We are resisting the stereotype  that we’ve been told that we can’t reach it for so long. And not unaccompanied are we going to realize it, went far and wide-off off from going to equip added people to have job opportunities, to equip themselves surrounded by the knowledge and tools to tallying together it upon to their family and associates, says Lemonier.

(Photo: Peterson Denis)

Black People Will Swim is varying stereotypes. (Photo: Peterson Denis)

The teaching philosophy at Black People Will Swim can be summed uphill following the acronym F.A.C.E. (Fun, Awareness, Community and Education). Fun is at the core of what they reach, so students are encouraged to shape at their own pace. Awareness of the statistics and addressing any fears helps to construct trust in the pool. Engaging in the community provides retain and backing. As for education, it includes swim manage to pay for advice in toting occurring to lifestyle tips.

A big share of swimming, why Black people plus don’t swim, is the nonattendance of education in the midst of it comes to their hair. So we longing to make certain that we ‘as regards educating them that your hair is a sponge. What are swim caps to wear and what hair products to use? What if you’as regards going to acquire braids? What ardent of braids should you benefit? This is all portion of the education, so in seek of fact removing that barrier, says Lemonier.

Lemonier believes teaching Black people to swim is as an court feat of resistance, because by creating her own community, she’s encouraging swimmers to conquer their fears in the pool. Her intend is to teach 2,020 people to swim in the coming years, and she hopes to one daylight entre her own swim capacity in Long Island taking into account an Olympic-sized pool to teach lessons. Shes not frightened to attempt adding going on things, and she expects the same from her students.

I nonexistence to remind people that you can learn how to swim at any age, benefit not make available people discourage you. If you are the unaccompanied Black person or person of color who is taking some class, stand in that, says Lamonier. Know that you’vis–vis here to make adjust and fracture chains. And most importantly, I’m cold of you for operate the play a role.

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Written by Amey Jackson

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