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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


For the past week I have begun - in earnest - training for a big swim at the end of May. About three weeks ago my good friend and coach, Karen Rogers swam from the Richmond Bridge to a small beach cove just west of The Golden Gate Bridge called Pt. Bonita. You can read about Karen's remarkable account of her swim here.

To give you a little bit of information, Karen completed a 14 mile swim in 3hr 20mins. in addition she was the first woman to do this swim and to the best of my knowledge not many men have done it either.The Richmond Bridge lies over in Marin County here in the Bay Area and the water is often very choppy with huge swells, sometimes going as high as 20 ft and the water on this day was hovering around 50F.

But every the water baby, Karen jumped in and had a blast the whole time. I was on board to feed her every half hour and to count her strokes. She maintained a consistent stroke count of 78 per minute for the duration of the swim, only dropping to 74 as she neared Pt. Bonita cove.

At the conclusion of the swim, Karen and mine's mentor Bob "Napa" Roper suggested that I think of a swim to do. Without hesitation I said, "Lets do Pt. Bonita to The Bay Bridge." Bob's eyes lit up and I knew he was in!

So this past Monday I have been staying out in the water a bit longer than usual. The temperature is still 51F, but I've decided that I need to workout at least an hour each day for now and build as the temp increases. I have been keep diligent notes about my times in the water and the temperature of the water as well. Eash day I tell myself, 'Stay in a wee bit longer you'll thank yourself come May when the water will feel balmy at 59 or 60F :-)

Every day, even on the days when I don't want to ride my bike in the rain and get in the cold water in the pitch blackness, I remind myself why I'm doing this. I swim because I want to be a role model for young kids of color. I do it because I promised Wanda Jean Butts, mother of Josh who drowned back in 2006, that I planned on raising money for The Josh Project with several of my swims.

And so it begins. Here I am at the ripe old age of 45, trying to be the first African American to swim from Pt. Bonita to The Bay Bridge, trying to be the first Black man to swim The Cook Strait, but luckily not the only one - and far from it - trying to get more kids of color involved in swimming.

Nice to have company out there and by the way it'd be nice to have company when I'm swimming to, so if any of ya'll want to come take a dip in Aquatic Park, ring a brotha!!

Keep Swimming!

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One day Naji, one day, I will do just that.


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