Good Morning. Good Afternoon. Good Evening. <— all depends on where you are reading this right?
Well, today I decided to blog about a subject that is near and dear to my heart…
I’m sure that some of you are wondering why. Well if you don’t know already, I am a black swimmer. My mum enrolled me into swimming at the local YMCA in my city at the age of 3. I was enrolled in swimming lessons until the age of 14. It is at this age that my mum and I had a conversation.
Mum: Marla, I never learned to swim as a child or adult and I really believe swimming is important. I also believe that it’s important that you have a hobby or skill that you can use anywhere. I have signed you up for lifeguard training.
This was the BEST news ever! I would be able to train under one of my previous swim instructors who I admired so much.
Here’s the big thing. I get to training. The YOUNGEST person there and the ONLY black child/youth. It really didn’t even matter to me at the time. I was just there to pass the lifeguard test and to get my CPR/AED training.
and I DID!!!!
That Summer of 1995 I had my FIRST official job. Like I was paying taxes and such.
I was working at my old stomping grounds, the YMCA that I took lesson at as a child. I also had the privilege to work with two of my swim instructors I had growing up.
Again, I was the ONLY black lifeguard on staff. At least I was the only black until July. By mid July there were three of us.
By the next summer I got certified as a swim instructor. Again…the only black.
I started to notice the trend.
- synchronized swimming – ONLY
- lifeguarding – ONLY
- swim intructor – ONLY
- swim team – ONLY
- swim team coach – ONLY
- water aerobics instructor – ONLY
So it’s 2017 and I have worked at 3 YMCAs, 1 Jewish Community Center, 2 two international schools and MOST times I am the only PoC (Person of Colour) that is there or the only PoC that remains. I also, am the instructor that everyone wants. I am perfectly ok with that, but it saddens me that PoC are so few in number in sports or activities that involve water.
This is why as a Black swim instructor, I am determined to reach out to my fellow PoC to ensure that they see my face. That PoC EVERYWHERE know that we exist.
Below you will find a list of some that I follow on Twitter and Instagram.
- Anthony Ervin Twitter Instagram
- Maritza McClendon Twitter Instagram – she happens to also be my Sorority sister!
- Black Kids Swim Twitter Website
- Black Girls Swim Twitter Twitter Website Website
- Cullen Jones Twitter Instagram
- Alia Atkinson Twitter Website– fellow Jamaican and my Sorority sister as well!
- Simone Manuel Twitter Instagram
- AfroSwimmers Instagram Facebook
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fatal drowning rate of African-American children aged five-14 is three times that of white children. A recent study sponsored by USA Swimming uncovered equally stark statistics. Just under 70% of African-American children surveyed said they had no or low ability to swim. Low ability merely meant they were able to splash around in the shallow end. A further 12% said they could swim but had “taught themselves”.
It is my goal that PoC, especially Black people, discover a new rite of passage. It is my goal that WE as a people to learn how to swim!
Remember: “Just keep swimming!” – Dory
So, I was looking through my iStock photos – yes I have a membership, not a SINGLE image when I type in “African American Swim Instructor” or “Black Swim Instructor”. Hey iStock if you need some images please hit me up!