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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parting The Waters-Swimmers of Color Making Waves















Did you know that less than one percent of competitive swimmers in the United States are people of color? Did you know that the drowning rates of people of color are three times higher than those for white children?

That’s why this past summer, my brother and I started swimming lessons with the Swim America program. Swim America is committed to giving the best swimming instruction to kids anywhere. I took lessons at an area university and I had a highly trained instructor. I will continue with my lessons throughout the year and you can, too. Have your parents contact Swim America to see where it is operating a program near you.

After the Olympics in Beijing, I am more excited than ever to improve my swimming and it’s not because of Michael Phelps. (I do like Michael.) It’s because of Cullen Jones, the African-American swimmer who won an Olympic gold medal in the 4X100 relay race. Check out Cullen’s video where he’s thanking his mom for supporting him over the years. Cullen is an incredible swimmer and he is using his Olympic fame to encourage children, especially children of color, to learn how to swim. Through the Make a Splash Foundation, he hopes to save many lives by persuading children of the importance of knowing how to swim.

There are a few swimmers of color on the scene who are truly inspiring. Besides Cullen Jones, there is Maritza Correia. She is the first African- American woman on an United Sates Olympic team. She won the silver medal at the Games in Athens in 2004.

Jenny Levison and Josh Waletzky are the producers and directors of an upcoming documentary called Parting the Waters.
“More than 50 years after landmark civil rights decisions opened schools and voting booths, fewer than 1% of competitive swimmers in the U.S. are black and Latino. Parting the Waters is the story of African-American championship swimmers Maritza Correia and Cullen Jones, and the young black and Latino swimmers coming up behind them –– as they challenge old myths, fears, and stereotypes to break down the last vestiges of segregation.”, is how they summarize this great project.

For more information, see the following sites and go out and make a splash.

Parting the Waters-
www.dotellproductions.com
There's an interview with Jenny and Josh, the filmmakers of Parting the Waters ,on Participant Productions blog: http://blogs.takepart.com/2008/08/15/parting-the-murky-waters-of-race-in-the-swimming-pool/

Swim America
www.swimamerica.org

The Make a Splash Foundation
www.makeasplash.org

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