International Swimming Hall of Fame to Host Event Focusing on Black Swimmers

PHOENIX, Arizona, February 6. IN honor of Black History Month, the International Swimming Hall of Fame will host a presentation on Feb. 19 that will highlight the history and accomplishments of blacks in aquatic sports from the time of slavery in America to the 21st century.

Following is the press release from ISHOF:

The Museum of Swimming at the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the Old Dillard Museum of Fort Lauderdale will honor African-American swimming history during Black History Month by presenting a live presentation of "BLACK SPLASH: THE AMAZING HISTORY OF SWIMMING IN BLACK AND WHITE," a multi-media presentation using film and photographs to tell the tragic, yet inspiring story of the African Diaspora and swimming, from the chronicles of the first Portuguese explorers and slavers which described coastal Africans as culturally aquatic peoples and excellent swimmers, through the Jim Crow era when African-Americans were excluded from America's beaches and pools, including those in Broward County, to today, when few African-American participate in aquatic sports. It explodes the myth that "Blacks can't swim," tells about the rich cultural aquatic heritage of Americans of African descent and explains the historical and cultural reasons why many African-Americans today choose not to swim — and the tragic consequences of that decision. The fatal unintentional drowning rate for five- to 15-year-old African-Americans is 3.2 times higher than that for whites.

Among the notable African American swimmers featured in this presentation are: Yarrow Mamout, the "greatest swimmer to ever swim in the Patomac River"; Crispus Attucks, the former sailor and swimmer who was first American to die in the Revolutionary War; York, the only African-American on the Lewis and Clark Expedition; Paul Cuffee, America's first great African-American entrepreneur; Tice Davids, the escaped slave whose swimming exploit gave the Underground Railroad its name; the amazing swimming ability of boxing legend Peter Jackson; Eugene Williams, the African-American youth whose drowning ignited the deadly Chicago race riots of 1919; Civil Rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young, a member of the Howard University swim team; Nate Clark, the first African-American to score in an NCAA Swimming Championship, and; Anthony Nesty, the University of Florida All-American, the first swimmer of African descent to win an Olympic Gold medal.

The "Black Splash" exhibit will remain on display in the museum from 9 am to 5 pm seven days a week throughout the year. For more information, call 954-462-6536.

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