Three Black women made history this week at the NCAA Swimming Championships
The biggest congratulations of all time go out to the three young female swimmers who made swimming history this past weekend. Never before have Black women taken home the gold, silver AND bronze medals at an NCAA Division One Championship race (or at the Olympics trials, or at Nationals). And now thanks to three incredible college swimmers, they have.
Freshman phenom Simone Manuel and her Stanford teammate Lia Neal, brought home the first and second place spots in the 100 freestyle, respectively, shattering records in the process.
According to NBC news, Simone set new NCAA, American, U.S. Open, Championship, and pool records when she finished the women’s 100 yard freestyle in 46:09 seconds. For those of you that don’t know, that’s really, really fast.
Teammate Lia, as fans may remember, took home a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She led the first leg of the race at the NCAA championship, and broke some records of her own, annihilating the American record in the relay by 2 seconds and the US Open/NCAA Record by a full second. Not too shabby for two girls who are going to use their spring break to catch up on homework.
Lindsey Hinds of the University of Florida rounded out the top three, breaking a school record, and cementing these three ladies’ places in the sports’ records books.
The national governing body of swimming in the United States acknowledged the history-making sweep, sending out a tweet of congratulations to the swimmers.
Teammates Simone and Lia gave a joint video interview to Swimming World magazine, in which Lia seriously revealed her true grit, “We were talking about it before the relay, we were gonna go until it hurt. If it hurt that meant that we were doing something right,” she said.
Like most great athletes, they weren’t thinking about themselves during the race, they were concentrating on the task at hand, and what resulted was absolute greatness.
Simone told the USA Swimming website, “When I was on the podium I was still in competition mode, thinking, ‘I have another race, it’s not over yet.’ But then when I got on the plane I saw [famous swimmer] Rowdy (Gaines) had tweeted ‘history’ and a couple of other people had said something about it. I realized how important it was, and the impact that race might have on the sport.”
Their sweep is even more dramatically important because swimming is a historically white sport, and Black people have long faced horrible racist stereotypes that they are unable to swim. USA Swimming reported that famous African-American swimmer Maritza (Correia) McClendon sent a note saying, “This feat confirms the fact that more minorities are getting involved with swimming and excelling at higher levels. I look forward to Olympic Trials next year. Not only will these ladies continue to do special things, but they will motivate the next generation of minority swimmers to do even greater things.” Seriously awesome.
Cullen Jones, African-American swimming gold medalist, also commented on the 1-2-3 sweep. “Congratulations to all three of these ladies; this is a great achievement. In a culture that still believes that swimming is something ‘We don’t do,’ this shows the perseverance and dedication that these ladies have put forth to all be on the podium. My hope is that this starts to change our culture’s perception and is only the beginning.”
Congratulations to the Lindsey, Simone, and Lia for both breaking records and shattering stereotypes. We’ll definitely be looking out for you three at the Olympics.