Swimming World Presents “Dr. Kevin Dawson, Author of Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora, Awarded the Harriet Tubman Prize”

Swimming World January 2020 - Setting the Record Straight - ISHOF - Dawson with Harriet Tubman Award

ISHOF: Setting the Record Straight

Dr. Kevin Dawson, Author of Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora, Awarded the Harriet Tubman Prize

By Bruce Wigo

Dr. Kevin Dawson, who recently received the Harriet Tubman Prize for his book, Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora, corrects and revises the history of swimming to include and recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Africans to aquatics.

Back in 2012, Professor Kevin Dawson was in Fort Lauderdale to make a presentation on the history of swimming in Africa at the inaugural International Aquatic History Symposium and Film Festival. His talk was spellbinding and demonstrated why history is valuable for understanding our world.

In the years since, Dawson’s research was rewarded by the publication of his book, Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora (University of Pennsylvania Press), which won the 2019 Harriet Tubman Prize as the best nonfiction book published in the United States on the slave trade, slavery and anti-slavery in the Atlantic World.

The significance and importance of Dawson’s research is that it corrects and revises the history of swimming, written primarily by Englishmen and Western Europeans, to include and recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Africans to the sport of swimming.

And what an incredible legacy the world owes to African swimmers. For example, at a time when most Europeans could not swim, it was “most certain,” wrote Melchisédech Thévenot, in his 1696 book, L’Art de Nager (The Art of Swimming), that the “(Africans) excel all others in the arts of swimming and diving. It is to them the ladies are obliged for their Ornaments of Pearl; they are the divers who fish for them; they are also very useful for recovering anchors and merchandises that have been cast away.”

Unlike the Olympic pool today, where most finalists are of European ancestry, Dawson states that 400 years ago, the lanes would have been filled with African and Native American swimmers—and history supports his view.

To read more about Dr. Dawson and the historical scope of his book Undercurrents of Power,
Check out the January issue of Swimming World Magazine, available now!
Swimming World January 2020 Cover with Ryan Murphy

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FEATURES

016 THE TOP 5 STORIES OF 2019
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From the debut of the International Swimming League to a worldwide youth movement, 2019 marked the start of a new era in swimming.

018 2019 ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
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Diving: Shi Tingmao & Xie Siyi
Artistic: Svetlana Romashina &  Svetlana Kolesnichenko
Water Polo: Ashleigh Johnson & Francesco Di Fulvio
Disabled: Sophie Pascoe & Reece Dunn

020 EVENT SPECIALIZATION…WHEN?
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Many coaches are postponing specialization in favor of creating well-rounded swimmers for what lies ahead, leaving preordination behind so that other coaches, human nature and physical development can take its course.

022 READY AND REFOCUSED
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At last year’s World Championships in Gwangju, Ryan Murphy came home with three silver medals, but his first individual long course World title still eluded him. With his focus now set on the 2020 Olympic summer, the 100 back world record holder and 2016 triple Olympic gold medalist is looking ahead to Tokyo with confidence.

026 TAKEOFF TO TOKYO: THE BOYCOTT
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030 2019 WORLD & AMERICAN RECORD PROGRESSION
by Taylor Brien

032 ISHOF: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
by Bruce Wigo
Dr. Kevin Dawson, who recently received the Harriet Tubman Prize for his book, Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora, corrects and revises the history of swimming to include and recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Africans to aquatics.

036 MENTAL PREP: BEFORE THE BEEP WITH RYAN MURPHY
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COACHING

010 LESSONS WITH THE LEGENDS: RAY DAUGHTERS
by Michael J. Stott

014 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: STRATEGIES TO ACCELERATE SKILL LEARNING
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There are many different skill-learning approaches that can help a competitive swimmer improve his/her technique. For example, competitive swimming strokes “can be taught in their entirety or broken down into parts.” While both the “whole” and “part” approaches can help swimmers progress in all four strokes, selecting the most appropriate method can accelerate skill learning.

042 SPECIAL SETS: GETTING READY TO RACE
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As college swimming rolls into its championship season in February and March, meet warm-ups take on even greater importance.

044 Q&A WITH COACH WENBO CHEN
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045 HOW THEY TRAIN SARAH BACON
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TRAINING

013 DRYSIDE TRAINING: TIME TO RESET—READY, SET GO!
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JUNIOR SWIMMER

047 UP & COMERS: RYAN HOGAN
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COLUMNS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009 BEYOND THE YARDS

025 THE OFFICIAL WORD

035 GUTTERTALK

048 PARTING SHOT