We are here to celebrate all things Black and all things Aquatics!!! As a black woman, professor, and aquatic professional, I believe it is my calling to bring people together and to make sure that our accomplishments are celebrated everyday!! Everyday there are attempts to avoid the contribution that Black people have made to American History, but you can not separate us from the very thing that we built! Black History is American History! This month and every month, I want to highlight this community, this Village, and all its greatness!!
Maritza McClendon swam for the University of Georgia and became a 27 All-American anf 11-time NCAA champion. She earned gold medals in the World championships in 2003 and in 2004 She became the first African-American Woman to become a member of the USA Olympic Swim Team, winning the silver medal. She is also a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc and advocates for water safety and aquatic education through their Swim1922 program and their partnership with USA Swimming. She is also a member of Diversity in Aquatics, Inc. and serves as a board member.
Coach Nic Askew is and alumni and head coach of the Howard University Swim Team. He is currently coaching his 6th season of the only remaining historically black college or university with a Division I swim and dive team, He has been honored as "Coach of the Week," "Coach of the Year," "Professional of the Year," and has been highlighted in The Washington Post and the Howard University Magazine.
Simone Manuel is an Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist. She earned her medals in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, winning gold in the 100-meter freestyle and 4x100-meter medley and silver in the 50-meter freestyle and 4x100 freestyle relay. Manuel holds three world records in the NCAA Division-I Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. She turned pro in 2018 and I am so excited to see her in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games!!
Cullen Jones is an 2008 and 2012 Olympic Gold and Silver medalist, winning a gold medal in the 4x100 meter freestyle and medley relay, as well as, a silver medal in the 50 freestyle and 4x100 freestyle relay. Jones is the first African American to hold a world record in swimming the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.
Coach William "Buck" Godfrey is a former... well "The" former head coach of Southwest Dekalb High School's football team and swim team. He began his coaching career in 1974, going on to becoming the winningest football coach in Dekalb County History and the winningest African-American coach in the state of Georgia. After 30 years of coaching at Southwest Dekalb High School, he retired from coaching and teaching. Then in 2014, he was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) Hall of Fame. In 2015, Panthersville Stadium, as named, William "Buck" Godfrey Stadium. Even though he is know best for being a football coach, he will always be my swim coach. Godfrey began coaching swimming in the 1970's as well and it was an honor to be coached by him and to be among the number of athletes that he influenced.
Rashan Ali is a multi-media personality and native of Decatur,GA who has numerous accomplishments, which include hosting popular radio shows in Atlanta, Ga (HOT 107.9 A-Team Morning Show/ Ryan Cameron Afternoon Show). Rashan currently co-host the nationally syndicated talk show, Sister Circle. She hosts her own podcast, The Cool Soror Podcast, where she engages in great conversations with women and men who are members of black greek-lettered organizations. Rashan is also the founder of Sporty Girls, Inc., which is a non-profit organization that encourages participation in non-traditional sports like swimming, tennis, lacrosse, and soccer. She is an accomplished swimmer, breaking records in Dekalb County and attending Florida A&M University on an academic and swimming scholarship. Rashan is also an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Rashan is inspiring and one of my role models. Not only as a professional woman, but as person who appreciates The first time I met her was a my high school swim practice. She was there to help her father, Coach "Buck" Godfrey, coach our swim team because the football teams season hadn't ended yet. I would see her a several more times since then and through the years, I have spoken with her about swimming and how her and her her father were positive influences for me. I even had the privilege of being a guest on her Cool Soror Podcast in 2016. She continues to do amazing work in television, radio, and in the community. Im sure the impacts will be felts for ages.
Dr. Wilburn Campbell is the former Albany State University Athletic Director, Dean of College of Education, and Swim Coach/Instructor. During the 1970's, when HBCU swim teams were prominent, Dr. Campbells ASU Swim Team were SIAC champions from 1975-1981 and Black College National Champions in 1979 and 1980. He lead the efforts to begin the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) at ASU and served as the programs project administrator for 35 years. In 2016, he was inducted in to the Albany Sports Hall of Fame
As a Health and Physical Education major at Albany State University, I entered into the program with Dr. Campbell as my department chair. I took several courses with him as my professor and as a swimmer, lifeguard, and instructor, he brought me on to work with him in the NYSP program, a long with several other aquatic programs. Dr. Campbell has taught countless people of all ages in the community and is definitely worthy of mentioning during black history month.
Ashleigh Johnson is and water polo player and 2016 Olympic gold medalist. She was also a part of the USA team during the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, playing the goalkeeper.
Jamal Hill is a part of the US Paralympic Swim Team. At the age of 10, he was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). CMT is an hereditary neurological condition that can result in the loss of muscle tissue and touch sensation. Since his diagnosis, Hill has overcome his diagnosis and has become the number on ranked Paralympic Swimmer in the 100-Meter Freestyle and ranks number 22 in the world. He started the Swim Up Hill Movement in 2018 and is working to help lower the global drowning rate through private trainings, sponsors, and his digital swim school platform. He hopes to head to the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020 and bring home the gold!
Dr. Asherah Allen
Owner of My Swim Village, LLC, Creator of Black Girl Swim Blog, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, Water Safety and Aquatic Educator, Mother, Wife, and Creative