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Commentary by Gloria Locke
| Monday, Feb 16, 2015

glorialockeThere are still some firsts to be chronicled in the annals of history. Swimming, like other professions such as NASCAR racing, visual art, animation and web programming, are virtually uncharted waters – more correctly, unrecorded waters of historic accomplishments for people of color.

Santa Clarita is on the map for being home to an Olympic first.

In honor of February’s African-American History Month, it is a privilege to esteem 10 Olympic and world-champion swimming medalists and top competitors of African-American heritage. The first in history hails from Santa Clarita – swim superhero Anthony Ervin, of multicultural heritage, and named as a “first” by USA Swimming.

According to USA Swimming, these athletes have represented and championed the sport of swimming and engaged youth in water safety to prevent drowning tragedies. Anthony Ervin and Cullen Jones have been the face of the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make A Splash Initiative, touring nationwide to educate and motivate families to take swim lessons to help cure the preventable epidemic of childhood drowning.

Anthony Ervin

Anthony Ervin

“Olympians make the biggest impact of anybody. You can see the kids’ eyes glowing as the Olympians are talking. Quite frankly, we want them to glow as they learn about the message of why it’s important to learn to swim,” said Debbie Hesse, USA Swimming’s executive director, during the Make A Splash 2014 tour in Los Angeles, featuring Anthony Ervin.

There are only 10 people of African-American heritage, to date, who are chronicled as past or present U.S. National Swim Team members. Thank you to these leaders for enduring the pressure of competing and pioneering the pages of history:

Anthony Ervin – of Santa Clarita, Olympic gold medalist, Olympic silver medalist, 2x World Champion and former World Record holder. He is the first of African-American heritage/Native American and Jewish to be named to the U.S. Olympic Swim Team and is currently a member of the US National Swim Team and the first of African-American heritage to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.

Cullen Jones – 2x Olympic gold medalist, 2x Olympic silver medalist, World Champion and first African-American to break a swimming world record, current U.S. National Swim Team member.

Anthony Ervin

Anthony Ervin

Maritza Correia McClendon – 3x World Champion, world silver medalist, 2x world bronze medalist, first African-American swimmer from the U.S. to set an American and world swimming record, first woman of African-Puerto Rican heritage named to the US Olympic team.

Lia Neal – Olympic bronze medalist, junior world gold and silver medalist of African-American and Chinese heritage, current U.S. National Swim Team member.

Simone Manuel – World champion gold medalist, currently on the U.S. National Swim Team.

B.J. Johnson – 9th fastest All-Time U.S. swimmer in the 200 breaststroke, currently on the U.S. National Swim Team.

Sabir Muhammed – first African-American co-captain of a USA Swimming National Team, first African-American to medal at a major international swim competition as a silver and bronze medalist.

Chris Silva

Chris Silva

Byron Davis – former 4x All-American and National Swim Team member.

Alison Terry – first African-American elected to the USA Swimming Board of Directors.

Chris Silva – first African-American swimmer named to USA Swimming National Team who competed in the U.S. Olympic trials for swimming. Silva died in an automobile accident in 1990.

 

Gloria Locke is the producer and host of the “SCV-Arts & Entertainment” show on SCVTV.

 

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1 Comment

  1. To my powerhouse friend and Sister in Christ, may the seeds you sow reap in there own season. With Love <3 G

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