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Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.

From The New York Times:

Her Parents Thought Swimming Lessons Were a Good Idea

Krystal Lara is one of very few Latinas in her class at Stuyvesant High School, and in the pool. She’s backstroking her way toward the Olympics.…

Former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka

Good video about former Yale swimmer Siphiwe Baleka

http://www.foxsports.com/video?vid=396080195760

I recently was in a discussion with a white colleague talking about the importance of diversity in swimming. As I began to tell this person about some of the programs I recently found out about, this individual remarked, "What's the point?" I was truly thrown back by this remark because out of all people, I was not expecting this coach to say this. So my questions for you are: 1) How have you handled such response? Especially when it is from someone who you thought "gets it". 2) What motivates you to continue coaching in a predominantly white sport? 3) Lastly, how do you make the decision of "this is an educational opportunity " vs. walking away?

Thanks everyone!

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Comment by Miriam S Lynch on February 18, 2015 at 5:22am

Great questions Tiffany, 

I am glad you have posted these here. We all often get asked these questions and more on why Diversity is important. It is like the statement we all hear such as racism doesn't exist so why is this a big deal? Here is my response and others please feel free to pitch in!

1. What's the point? This question can help ignorance become enlightenment through education of the facts. Here are some...First, we create programs to educate communities and professionals to save our kids. Sadly African American and Hispanic children drown at a higher rate (5x) than whites. Throw these statistics at them to help open their eyes to the facts (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6319a2.htm) Because, of this it is important that we need to create programs to reduce the statistics so that we can save our future to something that is preventable.  Secondly, just as any profession creates programs, creating programs for coaches and athlete's continued growth is important in any organization. Third, the american landscape is changing. The base of the sport is growing and we need programs to help support this growth of coaches and athletes so..you better get on the bus or watch it pass you by.  (Drop your mic then exit left) 

2. What motivates me? I love coaching. I love seeing people accomplish what they thought they could not have. That is the core. The other things that might come and go that challenges you, but guess what that's life and I have to be a living example of this. Its how you handle it and since we have young minds that are influenced by our actions we have to set the example. Once in front of my team, this guy said "oh its nice that a Basketball Coach came to support" before I realized my group were the ones to say no she is our coach. That was better than anything I could have said, because they said it all for me. That's what we are doing. We are growing the next set of leaders and changing their view of the world.  I am not only am I helping to make great athlete, I am making great people to stand up and take action. 

3. For me swimming is an educational opportunity. Being a Black women in this sport is hard. We are the double minority and it seems sometimes that the support to continue on is little or lacking. That is why your questions are so important. My answer to your question is you walk away when you feel it isn't worth the fight (which I hope you don't get to b/c we need more women like you leading in this sport) But first before you get to that point create networks (use DAP:), to ask people to be mentors and have friends/family to support you in what you are doing. You need to create your village. This allows you to press on on the hardest days. Gives you a cheering squad and people to ask questions. Ill tell you that I could not do it without my group who surrounds me, some of which I have met here on DAP. This group will be the ones who will on some days call me and say "where have you been? I was just thinking of you...what's up?" This matters because it reminds you that you are not alone and gives you support. Next learn the rules to the game and then break those barriers just like we encourage our athletes to do in swimming.  It if is your passion you will learn the rules, then work hard to break the barriers. That is what we are here to do, push our athletes and ourselves a little bit more and show WHY it is important. Why getting up at 4:00am will help you get to that cut/goal time. Just as you would tell your kids to keep on going after a bad race, we have to remind ourselves to do the same. It is what you learn from it. If you have given it all that you can, then walk away and know that swimming is just one tool to help learn lessons on life. It isn't easy, there are ups and downs, but when the hard work pays off the rewards are great.  

I hope this answered your questions. Feel free to contact me. Again these are great and should have more dialog like this! We are all here to help and support each other. 

Miriam

miriam@diversityinaquatics.org 

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