For the first time in American history, three Black swimmers joined the Olympic Team when it traveled to London this past summer.
Of the three Black swimmers, native New Yorker Lia Neal, 17, placed fourth in the Olympic trials, becoming the second African American woman to join the United States swim team.
On the men’s side, Sabir Muhammad, 36, was the first Black swimmer to set an American record. He broke U.S short course records in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle and finished his swimming career with seven championship titles, 25 American honors and three NCAA, U.S Open and American records.
What makes Neal and Muhammad’s achievements remarkable is that they shattered the myth that African Americans cannot swim.
According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, African American children between the ages of 5 and 14 are three times more likely to drown than white children in the same age range.
Statistics show that 70 percent of African American children cannot swim, compared to 60 percent of Hispanic children and 42 percent of white children.
Muhammad started his career as a swimmer in the Natatorium in Adamsville, Atlanta. Coached by former schoolteacher, Tommy Jackson, he helped pave the way for young African Americans to follow in his footsteps. He is the inspiration of a new generation.
Setting his mark, Muhammad later opened his own swim school in Atlanta where he teaches children that swimming is not just a sport, but in fact a vital life-saving skill.
Read more at CNN.