| Tuesday, February 16, 2016
This is one of many projects the organization’s Diversity & Inclusion team uses to create a culture of inclusion and opportunity for people of diverse backgrounds, including but not limited to race, age, income, ethnicity, religion, gender expression and sexual orientation. By providing educational tools at all levels via staff, LSCs, coaches and athletes, USA Swimming is creating deeper relationships with and providing meaningful resources to underrepresented communities.
“By highlighting African-American swimmers and coaches who compete on the international stage and at all levels, we show that swimming really is a sport for everyone,” said Mariejo "MJ" Truex, USA Swimming Director of Programs and Services. “Our goal is to share the benefits to attract new audiences to our sport, with role models who can increase diversity within our organization and swim teams.”
The African-American Resource Guide highlights various aspects of USA Swimming programming:
• The Camp System: Several national, regional and zone Diversity Select Camps bring high performing and up-and-coming athletes from underrepresented communities to three-day camps, which include pool and classroom sessions with a focus on leadership.
• Diversity Coach Mentorship: A mentorship program that focuses on matching diverse mentees with experienced coaches.
• Community Swim Teams: Partnerships with diverse communities around the country in order to increase the diversity of our membership. A co-op with the New York City Parks & Recreation provided USA Swimming membership to 600 athletes and 50 coaches.
• Swim 1922: Partnership with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority that focuses on reducing the drowning rate within the African-American Community.
African American Resource Guide can be found here.
In 2010, USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis released research that identified key barriers to urban minority group participation in swimming. The study revealed that fear, swimming ability, physical appearance and access to facilities actively prevent minorities from engaging in the sport. The study also revealed that 70 percent of African-Americans don’t know how to swim and formal swim lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by more than 80 percent.
With the creation of the Cultural Inclusion Resource Guides, the Diversity and Inclusion Team is providing tools that will foster an inclusive environment and improve representation at all levels of the sport.