MEC helps close racial gap in swimming

As the school year begins, Medgar Evers College (MEC) says it is making a splash.

The Crown Heights, Brooklyn college’s gorgeous, 25-yard, five-lane pool is helping close the racial gap in swimming, said MEC in a statement.

According to Felicia R. Lee, MEC’s director of news and information, in the United States, 70 percent of African-American and 60 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim or swim poorly, as widely noted by the media recently in the wake of the success of Simone Manuel.

Lee noted that Manuel’s victory in the 100-meter freestyle in the Olympics made her the first African-American woman to win a gold medal for individual swimming.

“The racial gap is partly explained by a lack of access to pools for African-Americans and a history of segregated pools and beaches,” Lee said.

“People don’t know how to swim when they don’t have access to pools,” said Rene Bostic, MEC’s Director of Athletics. “Our pool is available for rentals. We would like to see our community take advantage of it. There are not a lot of pools around that are centrally located like we are.”

But Lee said MEC, a predominantly black institution, is already doing its part to increase the number of people of color in the water.

The college is located in the mostly African-American and Jewish neighborhood of Crown Heights, where children of all colors flock to the classes taught in the MEC pool by Imagine Swimming, she said.

Lee said the company rents the pool from MEC, and that the pool is also utilized by MEC staff, faculty and students.

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