Join our newsletter

Join our wellness community and become an insider with access to new products, initiatives, and info direct to your inbox.

    8 Black Swimmers You Should Know Just Because

    Did you know that the synchronized swimmers in Beyonce’s new visual album ‘Black is King’ are from Jamaica?! 

    They are black swimmers we should know! Jamaica Synchro. Get into them! They shared a clip of the visual on their Instagram page.

    Listen here. This is another win for Queen Bey and the culture!

    We were so ecstatic to learn about this good news because it was timely with the conversation we had recently on our  podcast episode with Paula Lamonier.

    We talked about her new initiative Black People Will Swim, whose mission is smashing the stereotype that Black people don’t swim. 

    They aim to teach 2,020 people how to swim by December 2020!

    Lamonier believes that our kids should know the great swimmers who have paved a way for us. This is what she had to say (a snippet from her interview)

    Statistics show that if a parent can’t swim, there’s only a 13 percent chance their child will learn, according to a 2010 report commissioned by USA Swimming.

    The report found that 69 percent of black children and 58 percent of Latino children cannot swim, compared with 42 percent of white children.

    Black children drown at a rate almost 3 times higher than white children.
    Rio 2016 is the first Olympics where the U.S. swim team had two black women.

    It is unfortunate that this is yet another factor in the Black health crisis raging across America that needs to be addressed.

    To help you educate yourself and your kids, we compiled these 8 Black swimmers we think you should know.

    black swimmers

    Anthony Ervin

    Ervin was the first black swimmer to make a US Olympic swimming team attended the University of California and Phoenix Swim Club, in 2000. 

    Ervin was born on May 26, 1981 in Valencia, Calif. His background represents the diversity of the United States, as he is of European Jewish descent on his mother’s side and African American and Native American descent on his father’s side. 

    Growing up he was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped him from swimming fast. His book, Chasing the Water, hit store shelves in 2016.

    He was also the first to medal, winning gold in the 50-meter free and silver in the 400 free relay at the Sydney Games.

    black swimmers

    Maritza Correia

    Correia was born in Puerto Rico to parents who immigrated from Guyana.

    In 2004, Correia, also known by her married surname of McClendon, became the first woman of African descent to swim for the U.S. Olympic team.

    She was the first black American to set a world swimming record, and the first female black Olympic swimmer to join the U.S. team.

    Correia started off her swimming career in choppy waters. Her doctor diagnosed her with scoliosis and recommended swimming as part of her treatment and therapy program.

    From there, she became obsessed with swimming.
    By the time she was 18, she became the 50-meter freestyle U.S. national champion in the 18-and-under category.

    She went on to take one gold in the 2002 + 2003 National Championships, as well as one gold and two bronze medals at the 2011 World Championships.

    In 2004, she made the Olympic team and won silver as part of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay in Athens, Greece.

    As the first black female swimmer on the Olympic team, she paved the way for other great black swimmers.

    black swimmers

    Cullen Andrew Jones  

    An American competition swimmer and Olympic gold medalist who specializes in freestyle sprint events. As part of the American team, he holds the world record in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay (long course).

    Born in the Bronx borough of New York City, Jones moved to Irvington, New Jersey, while in elementary school. He learned to swim after he was rescued from a near-drowning at a splash-down pool at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Pennsylvania when he was five years old.

    Cullen Jones is a 4-time Olympic medalist and the first African American swimmer to hold a world record. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Jones swam on the legendary world-record-setting 4×100 freestyle relay team.

    In 2012, Jones won gold as Team USA’s anchor in the 4×100 medley relay, silver in the 4×100 freestyle relay and individual silver in the 50m freestyle.

    In total Cullen accounts for 13 U.S. medals (seven gold) at major international competitions.

    black swimmers

    Alia Shanee Atkinson

    Born December 11, 1988, Atkinson is a Jamaican swimmerOlympian, and breaststroke specialist from Jamaica.

    Atkinson began her Olympic career in 2004, at just 16 years old competing in the 50-meter freestyle and the 100-meter breaststroke.

    In 2007, Atkinson carried the Jamaican flag during the Pan American Games opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro. She set the Jamaican record for the 100-meter butterfly. 

    At the 2010 NCAA Championships, she took 1st place in the 200-meter breaststroke.

    She won the 100-meter breaststroke competition in 2014 at the Short Course World Championships in Doha with a time equaling that of the record established by Rūta Meilutytė in 2013.

    She became the first black woman to win a world swimming title.


    Siobhan Trichelle Cropper 

    Born April 13, 1978, Cropper is a 2-time Olympian and swimmer from Trinidad and Tobago, who specialized in sprint freestyle and butterfly events. 

    Cropper represented Trinidad and Tobago in two editions of the Olympic Games (1996 and 2000), and eventually captured the 100 m butterfly title at the 1998 Central American and Caribbean Games in Maracaibo, Venezuela. 

    She also holds 3 Trinidadian records in a sprint freestyle and butterfly double (both 50 and 100 m), two NCAA championship titles and fourteen All-American honors, while attending Stanford University.


    Simone Manuel 

    Born August 2, 1996 , Simone Manuel is an American competition swimmer specializing in sprint freestyle.

    At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she won two gold and two silver medals: gold in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter medley, and silver in the 50-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter freestyle relay.

    In winning the 100-meter freestyle, Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual Olympic gold in swimming and set an Olympic record and an American record.

    Manuel also holds 3 world records as a member of a relay team, and she is a six-time individual NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships champion. 

    She became one of the first three African American women to place in the top three spots in the 100-yard freestyle event in any Division I NCAA Swimming Championship. 

    She turned pro in July 2018.

    Lia Neal 111216 CV 133

    Lia Neal

    Born February 13, 1995, Neal is an American competitive swimmer who specializes in freestyle events. 

    In her Olympic debut at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, she won a bronze medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. In 2016, she won a silver medal in the same event at Rio de Janeiro.

    Neal was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1995. Neal is of African American and Chinese descent. She attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart School in New York City, where she was a member of the club swim team, Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics. 

    She now swims for Stanford University, where she attends college.


    Naomy Grand’pierre

    Born 16 April 1997 is a Haitian-American swimmer. She competed in the women’s 50-meter freestyle event at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she ranked 56th with a time of 27.46 seconds. 

    Grand’Pierre is the first woman from Haiti to compete as a swimmer in the Olympics.

    Born in Montreal and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Grand’Pierre is a dual US-Haitian citizen.

    She is a graduate of the University of Chicago (Class of 2019) and collaborated with the USA Swimming Diversity and Inclusion Committee during her college years.

    She is currently helping the Haitian National Swim Team, in collaboration with the FHSA (Haitian Swimming Federation), structure their program to give Haitians in Haiti and the Diaspora more access to the sport.


    The Black Swimming Association (BSA) is the brainchild of Ed AccuraAlice Dearing, Danielle Obe and Seren Jones.

    The BSA was organized to highlight the importance of swimming as an essential life skill, showcase the benefits and opportunities in aquatics, and prevent drowning in black and minority ethnic communities.

    Statistics recently released by Sport England show 95% of black adults and 80% of black children in England do not swim. This statistic is similar to that in the United States where USA Swimming statistics show 70% of black children don’t know how to swim. 

    Let’s change these statistics! Take yourself and the family to swimming!

    Listen to the entire podcast episode below.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.