Crossing The Lane Lines is dedicated to giving voice to the Black Swim community. We connect with coaches, swimmers, authors and activists. Seeking to inform the public about the rich aquatic history of the Black diaspora.
Most people have done cannonballs, somersaults, and jumped off of springboards into a pool, lake or bay, but not many I’ll wager have ever attempted to jump off a 100ft cliff, executing a perfect dive. Today we’ll speak to former professional high diver, Chip Humphrey, about his extraordinary career.
Many individuals in the swimming world condemned Olympian Klete Keller’s active participation in the insurrection at our Nation’s capital on January 6th. However, USA Swimming’s tepid response to a former member’s actions, that many considered seditious, were met with disillusionment and anger within the Black swim community. After last summer’s protests concerning the lynching of George Floyd, and a country divided, one wonders if USA Swimming is really serious about addressing issues in house. We’ll speak to historian, former D1 swimmer, and elite level swim coach, Dr. Johanna Mellis about Keller, the media, mental health, and whether or not USA Swimming has a racism problem.
If you mention names like: Doc Counsilman, and Mark Spitz, your probably going to have a number of people in the swim community that have heard of them. Powerhouse swim programs like Indiana University, and The University of Texas would be familiar to many who follow swimming as well, but what about names like Clarance Pendelton, or Malachi Cunningham, and swim programs from Historically Black Colleges like, Howard University, or Morgan State, would these names be on anyone's radar? We'll speak to researcher, swim coach and former competitive swimmer, Kevin Colquitt about the forgotten names of elite Black swimming in the Collegiate ranks from as far back as the 1940s, and his determination to educate the public about these amazing swimmers and institutions.
Over the last 116 years, only two Black men have made the Olympic roster in water polo, or 1.27%. On the women's side it's not much better. In the last 16 years, only one Black woman has made the Olympic roster, which comes to about 2.4%. Today we'll be joined by two guests, former men's national team member, and 2007 Pan American gold medal winner, Genai Kerr, and current women's national team member, and current Olympic gold medalist, Ashleigh Johnson, about how they are determined and succeeding in changing the look of men's and women's water polo.
Last summer USA Swimming was called out for not only it's slow response to speak on the lynching of George Floyd, but also it's failure to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter. This all came about mainly as a result of a social media post that went viral, calling out the need for USA Swimming to listen to members of the Black swim community, and take their lead from them. Today, we'll speak to Noelle Singleton, a former competitive swimmer, elite level swim coach, and the author of the post that is challenging USA Swimming in particular, and the swim community as a whole.
Over its history the sport of competitive swimming has not been a bastion of inclusiveness for Black folk, and if we're talking about synchronized swimming it's even less so, but one woman is making a tremendous difference in how the sport is seen and who is being seen in it. Today we'll speak to Ashley Johnson, an elite level synchronize swim coach about how she is making the sport more inclusive not only for young Black women, but also welcoming for other marginalized groups.
The Jim Crow era is considered one our nation's darkest times. The "so called" separate, but equal, may have been seen as egalitarian by White folk, but Black people knew, and lived the real story. Jobs, housing, education and yes, swimming were far inferior in Black neighborhoods, but through it all, Black people found a way to rise up. Today, we'll hear from someone who grew up in segregated Tallahassee, FL, went on to an Ivy league school, joined their swim team, and made folks take notice.
On January 6th, 2021, a 6 foot 6 inch former US Olympic multi-medal winning swimmer, Klete Keller, took part in the violent insurrection on our Nation's Capital. Like many in the crowd, he was allowed to leave the building following the devastation that claimed the lives of five people. Many athletes of color, and people of color in general, clearly saw the double standard with how a White mob is treated as it storms Congress, and how Black and Brown protestors are received during Black Lives protests. Further, one has to wonder what sort of reception Black and Brown athletes would receive from both the police and media if the tables were turned? We'll speak to award-winning sports journalist Dave Zirin, about the deep rooted relationship between sports and politics, and the rise of the activist athlete.
The challenges of elite Black swimmers has been well-documented on this show, but what about the challenges that face their parents. We'll speak to activist and mother of an elite age-group swimmer, Melanie Hinson, about the hardships of; equipment, travel, lodging, registration fees, and whether or not their child feels safe on a pool deck surrounded by children that don't look like them.
Many Historical Black Colleges and Universities had established swim programs, a place where young Black men and women could attend not only to compete, but feel like they were not aliens in a sport that has been dominated by Whites. But over the last several decades, all but one have dropped their programs. So, what happens to those that wish to continue on in their swimming career, and have an opportunity to not feel out of place? We’ll speak to NCAA Swim Coach Nate Harding, about the need for more HBCU swim programs, and the challenges for elite Black swimmers, and coaches.
Episodes with music are only available on Spotify.
Most people that have backyard pools use them for recreation, a place to unwind, and to invite friends over on a hot summer day, but what if you're inviting over 15,000 friends? If your part of the Thorpe family based in Baltimore, MD, this isn’t unusual. Since 1972, Marvin Thorpe Sr., and now Marvin Thorpe II have been teaching children and adults, mostly people of color how to swim. We'll speak to Marvin Thorpe II, head coach of the 4M Swim Club, about swimming, inclusion, and the need for more Black coaches in the sport of swimming.
Also in the podcast, Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion Swimming, is known for revolutionizing swimming for triathletes, and adult onset swimmers who went from struggling to get from one end of the pool to another, to a place where they can have comfort, enjoyment, and swim with ease, but what isn't very well known was his desire to make swimming more inclusive. We'll speak to Fiona Laughlin, Terry's eldest daughter, and the first Total Immersion swim coach about his extraordinary legacy.
Black people have many excuses why we don't swim; hair issues, body type, bone density, parents never learned, chlorine burns the eyes and many more, but who in their right mind walks around in, eats, sleeps, and bathes, with a life vest on? We'll speak to filmmaker, Ed Accura, about his acclaimed film on the subject of Black culture issues with swimming and The black swimming Association.
USA Swimming recently announced the formation of a Diversity Equity, and Inclusion Council to address and find solutions to the lack of participation of Black, Brown and other marginalized communities within the swimming world, but will this work? Will those at the regional and local levels be willing to adapt to change? Further, would any of this have occurred if we were not in the midst of a once in a life-time global pandemic, and in the middle of the country struggling with its history of systemic racism? We'll speak to former champion and world record holder Sabir Muhammad, about these issues.
Between 1915 and 1970, nearly six million African Americans fled the Jim Crow South in search of a better life in the North. The vast majority found solace along the East Coast and Mid-West, but some ventured farther to the sands and sun of California. Today we'll speak to historian, Dr. Alison Rose Jefferson, about the great migration westward, and how some Black families, even though racism awaited them, settled along the Californian coastline, and built up beach-side business', leisure spots and cultural spaces.
Since May of this year, various sports bodies have spoken out about the need to address systemic racism. The NFL, NBA, and even USA Swimming have uttered the phrase: “Black Lives Matter.” But while this “so called” solidarity is going on, where is the surf community? Why have they largely remained silent on the issue of racism and privilege? We’ll speak to surfer and coach, Rhonda Harper about the lack of diversity in the line-up,
In 2004, Maritza McClendon became the first African American woman to make an Olympic team, but with this triumph came the burden of representing an entire community. Today, in her own words, she'll talk about her swimming career, the rewards, accolades, and yes the racism that she endured.
From 1445 to 1880, Black people were regarded as the best swimmers, and canoe builders in the world. How did this happen, and how did it change so dramatically? Dr. Kevin Dawson will join us to explain.
Taking on stereotypes like the age old one that “Blacks can’t swim,” is challenging enough, but how does one take on this issue when the subject believes it themselves? We’ll speak with Bruce Wigo, former head of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, about this very thing.
Lunch counter sit-ins, marches, boycotts, they all were effective for Blacks to demand their equal rights in the US, and moving forward with integrating public spaces, but what about pools? How were they integrated? Will speak to Dr. Jeff Wiltse, about the history of bath houses, swimming pools, and their place in the Civil Rights movement, and the violent history for equal access.
Welcome to the Crossing The Lane Lines podcast. A show which highlights the struggles, triumphs, and forward movement of the Black Swim community. Please join us beginning in August 2020 as we highlight the voices of coaches, swimmers, authors and activists, who make waves in the pool, on the deck, and in open water.