Early this month, 17-year-old Lia Neal made headlines when she became the second African-American woman to make the Olympic swim team. But if the young members of Prince George’s County, Md.’s Kingfish Swim Club have anything to say about it, a black athlete scoring big wins in the water won’t be a rarity for long (and at least one of them actually plans to give Neal some competition in four years).
Five years ago, the club swam in the lowest-ranked division in their league. Now they’ve been undefeated for three years in its most competitive one. The swimmers aren’t only winning; they’re also defying stereotypes in a sport that remains overwhelmingly white, the Washington Post reports:
The team’s rapid ascent is even more notable because almost all the kids on it are African American. And I didn’t talk to a single parent who swam competitively as a kid.
“I never thought I’d get into this. I did the traditional sports, you know, basketball, football,” said Anthony Davis, who wore a Kingfish orange bandana and was cutting away from our conversation to videotape his 13-year-old daughter and the other swimmers.
He got her swim lessons after hearing all those stories about black kids drowning because they didn’t know how to swim. She took to the water, and eventually so did he.
Though there are other majority black teams in the Washington area, swimming remains an overwhelmingly white sport. There are just three black swimmers representing the United States at the Olympics in London this month, a record. But those numbers don’t trouble the kids of Kingfish, who have posted a 4-1 record this year.
“I’m not dreaming about being in the Olympics. I’m going to be in the Olympics,” declared Cayla Dious, an 11-year-old swimmer. “Rio. In four years.” Then she headed back to the pool for her next event.
Read more at the Washington Post.