For Reuters, Alan Baldwin wrote a piece called Black swimmers still under-represented in the pool:
When it comes to diversity, swimming has a way to go.
In 2019, Swim England revealed to the BBC that only 668 of its 73,000 registered competitive swimmers identified as Black or mixed race.
A 2020 Active Lives survey carried out by Sport England revealed 95% of Black adults and 80% of Black children in England did not swim.
Britain is not an isolated case. Swimming, particularly at elite level and in nations that bag most of the medals when the Games come around, has long been white-dominated.
According to the USA Swimming Foundation, 64% of the country’s African American children, compared to 40% of Caucasian ones, have little-to-no swimming ability.
The figure is 79% among children from households with incomes of less than $50,000.
Access to pools, often involving membership of private clubs, has been one of the big barriers.
I covered Alice Dearing’s amazing achievement not long ago. But when I think of Black people and swimming, I’m reminded of all the negative stereotypes put on them by the media and society:
- “Black people can’t swim“
- Black people enjoying the pool but having acid thrown on them
- Black people having pool parties but getting assaulted by the police for whatever reason they could make up,
- Black swimmers being patronised when they do get in the pool at professional tournament level
The former continues to outweigh the latter and it appears that swimming authorities and governing bodies… don’t care? They’d much rather they ran fast or jumped high/long.