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Thread: black swimmers

  1. #1
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    black swimmers

    hi all, I'm writing from Italy. Hope not to be politically incorrect, you know, sometimes one uses wrong expressions which may be offensive without knowing it - English is not my language.
    ---
    My question: has someone understood why there are no black swimmers at the top of the world rankings? is there a physiologic reason? Thank you Antonio

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    Active Member guppy's Avatar
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    Re: black swimmers

    At least in the United States, there is a long and appallingly recent history of segregation against people of color in swimming pools, and so for decades they did not have the same opportunities as white people.

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    Re: black swimmers

    Thank you. So in your opinion there are only social reasons. It looks strange to me because there are so many great athletes of color in US, and the American society is so different from the times of segregation, I guess.
    My question is due to the fact that in some sports - marathon for instance - the superiority of the athletes of color is evident - so maybe the opposite is possible in swimming. In any case, aren't there scientific attempts to investigate this subject?
    -----------------------------------------
    Edited just to add that I'm discovering only now that this issue is debated, and my question is somewhat frequent - there are some first-rate swimmers of color too.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11172054
    Last edited by ant; May 26th, 2012 at 03:26 PM.

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    Re: black swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by guppy View Post
    At least in the United States, there is a long and appallingly recent history of segregation against people of color in swimming pools, and so for decades they did not have the same opportunities as white people.
    This statement is true and for a great history lesson on this subject I would suggest reading the book "Contested Waters" by Jeff Wiltse if you really want to learn the history of this subject. You can order it here and read the reviews.

    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Contested-Waters-History-Swimming-America/dp/0807871273/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338052808&sr=1-1"]Amazon.com: Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America (9780807871270): Jeff Wiltse: Books[/ame]

    My question: has someone understood why there are no black swimmers at the top of the world rankings? is there a physiologic reason? I am not sure if I totally agree with this statement. It is true as a % compared to other sports that would be accurate, but to say there are no black swimmers at the top of the World Rankings would be false. I think of swimmers like Cullen Jones, Maritza Correia, Anthony Ervin, Sabir Muhammad, Bryon Davis, Jeff Commings, Michael Norment, Chris Silva, and Nate Clark. All of these swimmers I have mentioned have either been World and American Record holders, NCAA Champions or finalists, Olympic Trial finalists and Olympians, and USA National Team members. I have left off a lot of other Black swimmers but the point I am making is there has been progress since the late 1960's.

    As stated besides the social reasons, there are theories that there are not enough black swimmers as role models for younger black children and they tend to relate to the successful black athletes in other sports such as football, basketball, and track. Swimming is starting to get roles models but needs a lot more to be able to get black children interested in swimming compared to those other sports.

    These are just some observations but I am sure there are others out there also.
    Skip Thompson

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: black swimmers

    In Illinios, there a few that are sprinters
    Last edited by orca1946; August 4th, 2012 at 12:35 AM.

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    Re: black swimmers

    There are a couple of reasons. Many people donít have the opportunity to learn how to swim especially in the inner city. Itís not that black people are bad at swimming, itís just that not many of them pursue competitive swimming. Cullen Jones is a great swimmer and he went from nearly drowning as child to being on a world record setting relay team. If every athlete in the world started swimming as a child and put all of their effort into swimming and not any other sport, Iíd be willing to bet that there would be a mix of races at the top of the list.

    I think the main reason why there are not many elite black swimmers is because the top athletes choose other sports like basketball, football, and baseball. The top athletes are obviously going to purse the popular sports for the most part. Itís the same reason why America is not good at soccer. I remember watching the USA England game in the last World Cup and thinking to myself, what a joke. Englandís best player was an old balding white guy and we couldnít even beat them. If soccer was Americaís number 1 sport and guys like Michael Vick, Lebron James, and Chris Johnson played soccer their entire life and were playing in the World Cup, the US could dominate soccer.
    The clock does not lie

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: black swimmers

    Quote Originally Posted by Warren View Post
    I think the main reason why there are not many elite black swimmers is because the top athletes choose other sports like basketball, football, and baseball.
    And very few American born blacks play baseball these days, so that one is quickly falling off the list...

    But, yeah, this is it in a nutshell. There is absolutely no physiological reason. It's purely historical and cultural.

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    Re: black swimmers

    It might be social mindset that's still prevalent from lack of opportunity in the recent past. However, the pools I use seem to represent a collective match to the surrounding population, but this is regarding general pool usage, not swimming specifically.

    As far as physiological features, I think the benefits one carries for swimming depends on parents. Short legs, tall, long arms, and a center of buoyancy as far back from the front as possible. Few swimmers have perfect builds for it. For me, my legs are very long proportionally -must be the genes I inherited from northern Italy. Anyways, I have to work around this by kicking better and faster.

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    Re: black swimmers

    One of the most beautiful swimming related things I have observed with my kids club is the increase in swimmers of Indian or Middle Eastern back ground-an ethnic group rarely if ever represented at advanced levels.However,our school district has(or had-it is now being cut)aquatic instruction in school for 1st,4th and 9th graders-so many are introduced to swimming and then want to pursue it at the club level.Some of these kids are coming in at 4-6 yrs old and are picking up skills quickly-and if their parents continue to support their participation there should be no reason why they won't be able to swim for their HS or even in college.

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    Re: black swimmers

    If you look at population base & income there are actually an impressive number of Afro-Caribbean swimmers who reach the elite level- the Netherlands Antiles produced Enith Brigitha (best black swimmer of the 1970s, probably would have won Olympic gold if the East Germans ahead of her hadn't doped) Barbados has Leah Martindale, Jamaica has assorted unrelated women with the last name Atkinson (Alia, Janelle, etc.) Bahamas has Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, the Cayman Islands has the Fraser brothers, Malia Matella is from Martinique or St. Martin's but represents France internationally (and I think her brother raced French Olympic Trials this year), Bradley Alley has one of those little island passports set a US high scool 200 IM record.

    Even Martiza Correia could have been a sure Olympic thing for Puerto Rico instead of gambling to make the United States Team.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: black swimmers

    If you want to expand the Caribbean to include the northern coast of South America, Anthony Nesty of Suriname deserves a mention for sure. His victory in the 100 fly at the Seoul Olympics was one of the greatest races ever!

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    Re: black swimmers

    Despite bad form, Shaquille O'Neal is surprisingly fast for a beginner

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    Re: black swimmers

    I had a conversation about this with a black woman in Mexico a couple of weeks ago. She is a poor swimmer but her brother was on the swim team, we were trying to figure out why more black people don't swim. We came up with the usual socioeconomic reasons, but she added that especially for black women, chlorinated water does horrific things to their hair, like causing it to break off. She also said many black parents discourage their children from pursuing swimming, due to their own discomfort around water.

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    Re: black swimmers

    This is an interesting question about which I have not given much thought even though it has been staring me in the face for years. My neighborhood YMCA is a major metropolitan inner-city facility and has been around for about 100 years. It has the usual gym, indoor basketball courts, weight rooms, etc., plus an indoor swimming pool. The membership is predominantly people of color (perhaps 80%) with African Americans being the largest group (perhaps 60%). Yet only about 10% of swimmers are people of color and those are almost exclusively Asians. I am sure the reasons must be social/cultural, but it is surprising given the length of time the YMCA has offered swimming to this community. I'm surprised I never really thought about it before--but then again I see people as people and tend not to think about thier race that often.
    Last edited by AlexP; May 29th, 2012 at 11:48 AM.

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    Re: black swimmers

    peer pressure, and race is definitely still a factor, though i don't know why exactly.

    a related observation: in american football, blacks dominate the running back position but are barely breaking into the quarterback position.

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    Re: black swimmers

    Although this article is a few years old, this program has only gotten bigger. Note the mention of Julimar who swam for Honduras recently in a major competition.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/mas...ool/?page=full

    Makes you think.

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    Re: black swimmers

    I thought this article written by a black author is quite interesting: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...e.olympics2008

  18. #18
    Active Member guppy's Avatar
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    Re: black swimmers

    "Black swimmers Increasing Diversity of the U.S. Team"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/02/sp...sity.html?_r=1

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    Re: black swimmers

    Too add some points other than segregation...

    Swimming is also very expensive compared to other sports because of the pool cost and convenience. It's not like you can't swim like you can throw a basketball or football around with your friends. Skiing and Lacrosse sports with few african americans that are expensive. Statistically speaking on average blacks are poorer than whites and may have less income to spend on expensive sports.

    Swimming may also be socially seen as a "white person sport" for a lack of a better term. What I'm trying to say it may just not be considered by the youth. When they look up to successful black athletes, they're all in basketball, football, baseball, track etc. So the kids will probably be more inclined to participate in sports that show success of their race and people they can relate to.

    When I competed in high school there were not a lot of black swimmers (I graduated in 2009). That said, Connecticut rural/suburbs don't usually have a lot of African Americans. Since you're from Italy, Connecticut is between New York and Boston.

    We did compete with some inner city and more ethnically diverse towns every once and a while. Connecticut's cities (Hartford, Meridan, Bridgeport, etc) are inhabited primarily by minorities and are very impoverished. CT has the highest income and education discrepancies between it's cities and towns.

    Even the city teams had very few black swimmers. Most of them were white or hispanic. The cities usually get a lot of funding from the state government so some of them have beautiful pools. My high school didn't have a pool and I lived in a affluent town.

    I too have noticed a big increase in asian, middle eastern, and asian swimmers.

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    Very Active Member lapswimmr's Avatar
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    Re: black swimmers

    There are many black swimmers on teams all over the country but yes overall they are way out numbered by others. Swimming is a lame sport to many blacks , when all your friends have football and basketball shoes and clothes who wants to swim, and how much respect and recognition do swimmers get compared to stars in football , basketball , or boxing. Plus the money, yes a swimmer can make a million dollars with a gold medal and some more for a while then thats it, NFL and NBA stars can make a million a year plus get lifetime pensions when they retire from the sport in addition to all the endorsement money.

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