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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


Hello Everyone,

I would like to let you know that I am a 28 year old Black male who is almost through with the swim lessons that I started in July of this year. It took a while to conquer my fear of the water; I had to learn to blow bubbles by exhaling, hold my breath and know how to take quick breaths, kick my feet in the correct position and move my arms and feet simultaneously. The lessons are postponed because it is getting cold, and my swim instructor is trying to find the right indoor pool to continue. All I have to learn now is the back stroke swim...
I never learned how to swim. I was due to my mother not being able to afford the swimming lessons and also there was not a pool in my low income community. If I did get into the water, then I would only get into the shallow part. I almost drowned about10 years ago in the deep end of a pool doing my freshman orientation in college. Some big guy did a Shamu wave (LOL!) and knocked me into the deep end. It was scary, and that increased my fear of the water.
What I have learned over the years is that the biggest issues that human beings face is FEAR. FEAR is more of a hindrance than a motivator. The biggest problem with my culture (African-Americans) is fear of getting out of comfort zones. For example, many young Black Men in the low income areas are smart and can be the best that they can be in any endeavor they choose, but the fear of leaving that area and venturing into the unknown has them blocked in changing their minds to change their environment. I decided to work on all of my fears one by one. Learning how to swim is one of them. I don't have any children, but if the Most High blesses me with them, I want to be able how to teach them how to swim, like a father should.
Thanks for reading and I hope my post is an inspiration for whoever reads it:)

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Comment by Naji on December 2, 2010 at 9:25pm
Jon it takes a lot of courage to overcome one's fear of water and hats off to you for doing so. I learned to swim when I was 43 and love it, especially open water swimming! Like you I didn't have any pools near me growing up but also, I didn't have a fear of the water. I just wanted to learn. Regardless of how one gets there, it is important to learn this valuable life skill no matter what our age. Keep up the great work and let us know how things progress.
Comment by Jayson Jackson on November 10, 2010 at 4:16pm
Great post Jon. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the hard work.
Comment by Robin Mohanco Heller on November 10, 2010 at 3:37pm
Jon, An amazing post! You should be VERY proud. Your story is in inspiration to a lot of people out there! I run a non-profit that is a Free year round USA Swim Team for children on free or reduced lunch out of a Salvation Army in Pensacola FL. I have found that most kids in the inner city are enthralled with swimming, it is the parents that keep them away from the pool. Thanks so much for your incite and congrats on your swimming accomplishments!

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