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FutureStarrHoward University Has The Nation's Only All-Black College Swim Team
Although Black people have been swimming for centuries, there still don't seem to be many Black college swim teams around.
At Howard University, however, this is not the case. The Bison are on a mission to show that Black people can and do enjoy being near water.
Sports Illustrated recently featured the team on their cover, celebrating how they're making history by breaking records and dispelling the myth that Black people don't enjoy water.
Head Coach Nic Askew is the head coach of America's only all-Black college swim team. He has worked tirelessly to help his squad achieve success both on and off the competition pool, while inspiring students and athletes in his program with his strong sense of community. His leadership style sets him apart as a great role model for others in his program.
He has guided both men's and women's swimming and diving teams to extraordinary success, setting multiple school records during his tenure as head coach at HU. Both squads have earned Scholar All-American recognition from the College Swimming & Diving Association of America (CSCAA) in consecutive semesters.
In addition to academic excellence, the Howard University Swimming and Diving program is making huge strides in debunking the stereotype that Black people don't enjoy water or aren't confident swimmers. This week the HBCU was featured on Sports Illustrated's cover, earning them a well-deserved spotlight and demolishing the idea that Black people don't love to swim.
The article features several members of the team, including senior diver Torri Huske who recently set two national high school records and earned herself the title of Swimming World's Female High School Swimmer of the Year for a second time. She swam at Yorktown High School before heading off to Stanford this fall where she will join their nationally ranked Cardinal Swim and Dive Team.
Other members of the HU swim team include senior diver Corey Johnson and senior swimmer Miles Simon. Both hail from different parts of America and have observed how the team has progressed during their tenure in the district.
Though many HBCUs have begun offering swimming programs in recent years, only one all-Black collegiate swim program has been active since 2016. It took some time for this program to reach its current status.
Howard University's swimming and diving teams have become the epitome of Black swimming in America, becoming its only NCAA Division I program to do so. Now on track for their first conference championship in 34 years, these HBCU students have earned themselves a place of honor among college swimming programs nationwide.
Sports Illustrated recently featured Howard University's swimming team, which has made headlines as a premier HBCU in an otherwise white sport. This month's cover feature focuses on Coach Nic Askew and his squad as they gear up to compete at the Northeast Conference championship meet in February.
Askew says he chose to pursue the head coaching position at Howard University when he graduated in 2000, after they courted him. As a swimmer himself, Askew has been credited with revitalizing their swim program.
He has a vision for the program that includes expanding it to include more racially diverse student-athletes. Furthermore, he wants the team to be more actively engaged in its community.
One of the many ways the Howard swim team gives back to its community is by partnering with the SWIM UP Foundation, which helps teach swimming skills and water safety knowledge to children who might not otherwise have access to pools. Furthermore, they host free clinics on campus as well as visits local schools to introduce swimming as a sport.
The team also enjoys a special relationship with Indianapolis high school athlete Xavier Ntamere, who chose Howard because it is the only college that offers swimming. Ntamere began competing in swimming as early as fourth grade and is dedicated to reaching his highest potential.
He has represented both Nigeria and the U.S. during his career, becoming the first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming. Currently, he serves as an assistant coach at Howard University.
Since joining Howard, he has created an inspiring team culture and taken on the role of leader. As a motivator, he motivates his colleagues to strive for success while remaining focused on what matters most: success!
He has been an enthusiastic supporter of the program, speaking at high schools and colleges about its significance. Additionally, he's contributed to a national conversation regarding Black America's complex relationship with water - including advocating for equal access to aquatic activities at public pools and recreational areas.
For HBCU athletic programs, the fight for recognition and top recruits is relentless. It's a battle for money, prestige and the chance to level the playing field with their predominantly white counterparts.
Howard University Bison have become the first all-Black college swim team to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated, marking an historic achievement for an HBCU. It's a tribute to head coach Nic Askew's tireless leadership as they strive towards greatness while breaking racial barriers within the sport.
Askew has taken on a difficult and demanding job with enthusiasm, striving to build an inspiring program for black communities around the country. By prioritizing his team first, he can be successful at coaching and developing the next generation of black athletes.
Though he's an accomplished swimmer, he admits not being the fastest athlete around. Yet despite this commitment to the sport since fourth grade, he remains passionate about it.
Daniel was delighted when he heard about HBCU's swimming program, considering its prestige and reputation. But he was shocked to learn that no other HBCU had a swim team.
His decision to apply and attend the school was greatly influenced by this experience. Now, he is proud to be part of the Bison family and eagerly anticipates an incredible senior year ahead.
As captain, he's accountable for setting an example for his teammates. While it is a huge responsibility, Captain Smith remains optimistic that his team will succeed.
His devotion to his team has inspired others to join in, and it's paid off in numerous ways. He's won two conference championships, been recognized as a CCSA Scholar All-American twice and earned himself a place on the National Club Swimming Association National team.
He's a testament to how a dedicated and passionate coach can shape the culture of an athletic team, stressing the importance of student-athletes understanding their role on a winning squad. That is why Askew makes it such a priority to instill in his athletes the importance of staying focused on the goal rather than letting their sport consume them.
Swimming is an intensely competitive sport, often dominated by white athletes. That is not the case for Howard University's Swim and Dive team though; their members have made history by becoming the first all-Black college swim team featured on Sports Illustrated's cover.
This year, the Bison men's and women's teams are 6-2 overall with a chance to win the Northeast Conference. They're competing in their conference championships this weekend from February 21-25, and have earned several medals for their efforts.
In addition to their victories this season, the Bison have set numerous records. This includes smashing both men's and women's freestyle records as well as both medley records.
The Bison are not only making headlines and shattering records, but they're also raising the bar for all college swimming programs. Their story was featured in Sports Illustrated, and coach Nic Askew is leading the charge to increase diversity within this competitive sport.
Askew has always had a passion for swimming, and after spending his youth as an athlete in the 1990s, he wanted to get into coaching. In 2014 he was fortunate enough to land his first head coaching position at Howard University and has worked diligently ever since to transform their swimming program.
Coach DeLuca has enjoyed great success at the school, coaching swimmers to NCAA Division II and III nationals while seeing many of his athletes earn academic scholarships. Furthermore, the Bison have consistently ranked in the top five nationally at both men's and women's levels for two of the last three years.
As the team gears up to compete in their upcoming home meets against Big East Champion Georgetown, it is evident that they are eager to make some history. They opened their season with an exuberant rendition of "America," and hip-hop music played throughout their practice sessions.
They have also received overwhelming support from the local community, which can be seen in how they promote themselves to aspiring student-athletes and parents alike. Furthermore, HBCU Game Day recently featured them in a promotional video where fans cheer them on as they enter the pool.