DC Parks and Recreation to Host Meet in Honor of Black History Month

Photo Courtesy: Gwendolyn Crump

By Bonnie Schipper, Swimming World College Intern

As a new year has begun, a full calendar of exciting swim events is waiting to take place. The 30th Annual Black History Invitational Swim Meet (BHISM) will take place February 12 – 14 at the Takoma Aquatic Center in northwest DC. Hosting 27 teams and 762 swimmers with 3,576 entries in 2015, the meet only expects to be larger and more successful this year.

“My favorite part of the meet is its inclusivity.  We have swimmers as young as five and six all the way up to adults in their 30s and 40s,” meet director Robert Green said. ”

The level of competition ranges from novice to Junior National level swimmers and the atmosphere is always electric.  This year is our 30th anniversary and we are anticipating more athletes than ever.”

BHISM, co-founded in 1987 by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the United Black Fund, Inc. (UBF) in honor of Black History Month, aims to provide urban youth with the opportunity to visit the capital city while facing strong competition and meeting positive role models. Since 1989, the BHISM Steering Committee has chosen recognize courageous and notable African Americans in history or in the field of swimming, whose impact is known throughout the world, to be recognized during the event.

Past honorees include Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Harriet Tubman. This year’s honorees will be Detroit Recreation Swim Team head coach Gary Peterson, City of Atlanta Dolphins Swim Team head coach Tommy Jackson and Coach Lee Pitts, an internationally renowned swim instructor, who all are working to increase diversity in swimming and allow all swimmers to grow and profit through effective training.

“Our format is slightly different this year, with three sessions on Saturday and Sunday instead of two,” Green said. “We anticipate that this will allow us to host even more swimmers and teams than in previous years.”

This meet is open to all swimmers. USA Swimming membership is not required for entry into the meet. Priority in acceptance of entries will be given to teams and athletes that swam in the meet the previous year. Any new teams or athletes interested in attending should notify the meet director with an estimated number of swimmers by January 26.

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Author: Bonnie Schipper

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Bonnie Schipper is an undergraduate student-athlete on Columbia University’s softball team. Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., Bonnie had her first experience with sports journalism in high school, where she served as editor-in-chief of her school’s newsmagazine, twice earning the Fairfax County Sports Journalist of the Year Award for her coverage of women’s sports. She also worked as an intern in broadcasting and production at the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network at Nationals Park and as a sports writer for Connection Newspapers. Bonnie is currently studying political science on a pre-law track and hopes to go into either sports law or sports journalism upon graduation from college.

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