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How A Simple Tweet Created "Black People Will Swim" Which Now Teaches Hundred Of Black New Yorkers How To Swim

Five years ago, Paulana Lamonier aimed to transform lives in NYC by teaching 30 Black people to swim. A former collegiate swimmer, Lamonier recognized the impact of swimming on her own life and wanted to share its benefits, particularly with Black children and adults. Her initiative, Black People Will Swim, emerged in 2019 with the goal of making swimming accessible and affordable.

"Swimming has claimed so many lives of Black people," she said. "We deserve to have a space to learn without feeling discriminated against, without feeling as if we have to break the bank to learn this life skill. And, most importantly, it's really a community."

The program addresses racial disparities in swimming, noting that Black children are significantly more likely to drown than their white peers. With this mission, Lamonier's business rapidly expanded. Initially teaching around 300 students annually, Black People Will Swim now instructs 300 people every six weeks. Despite challenges such as limited access to indoor pools, the program thrives, keeping costs around $30 per session, significantly lower than similar programs.

Lamonier left her career to focus on swimming instruction full-time, supported by an all-Black staff. The program operates from York College in Queens, an area with limited public pool access. This choice underscores the broader issue of segregated and privatized pools in the U.S., which has historically limited swimming opportunities for Black communities.

Lamonier's vision extends beyond swimming lessons. She plans to launch a swimwear line and expand to other multicultural programs. Her ultimate goal is to establish a dedicated swim school that fosters a supportive environment and creates a pathway for aquatic professionals.

"We see the importance of having Black hair salons. We see the importance of having Black clothing lines, right?" she said. "It is vital for us to have our own swim school, where people can come get affordable swim lessons for people who look like them and most importantly, create that pipeline for aquatic professionals."

Link:  NBCNews


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