Excerpt from How the color of American swimming is finally changing by Pat Forde as posted on Yahoo Sports on Jan 18,2016.
Cullen Jones is less of a curiosity now, and that’s a wonderful thing.
The two-time Olympic swimmer and four-time Olympic medalist spent a lot of time as the only African-American performing at the highest level of American swimming. In a sport that has tended to be whiter than a Toby Keith concert and makes golf look diverse, he stood out.
The article also discusses access to pools.
Diversifying the sport can only enhance the American swimming talent pool. But getting blacks into swimming can also save lives.
Seventy percent of black children and 60 percent of Hispanic/Latino children cannot swim, according to USA Swimming research. That compares to 40 percent for white children. And the Centers for Disease Control found that black children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers.
Jones, who for years has been an active spokesman for water safety in inner cities, has heard countless sad stories from parents or relatives of drowning victims. A major part of that is a lack of access to pools.
“You’ve got places in the inner city where they have pools, but the pools are dry,” Jones said. “You’ve got pools that are underutilized, they’re shutting down pools because they don’t have the money to keep them up. It’s just not as important to people as it needs to be.”