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Crafting a Mosaic: The Legacy of Black Leaders in Aquatic Safety


Strengthening the social fabric of any community begins with exploring the woven textures and narratives of community leaders. Drowning continues to burden families and communities, and while the work of prevention can seem daunting, it is important to recognize the vibrant and diverse contributions of those in aquatic safety working tirelessly to prevent drowning. The legacy of black leaders in aquatics is a rich tapestry of safety, education, and empowerment. In the words of community activist and leader Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew, by listening to the stories of others, we learn more about our own power, claim our purpose, and pursue our own passion. 

In celebration of Black History Month, we will explore the impact Black leaders have contributed to the tapestry of aquatic safety, past and present, and their vital role in advancing water safety and swim proficiency.

Journey with us through a gallery of influential figures who are helping to paint a legacy of aquatic safety and empowerment.

Trish Miller – The Community’s Muralist

black leaders in aquatic safety

SwemKids, Founder and CEO, Trish Miller, through her strategic contributions, is addressing generational trauma as it relates to the water and increasing professional representation in swim instruction and aquatics. Through partnerships with school districts and aquatic professionals in communities experiencing the highest rates of drowning, Trish has added vibrant and diverse layers to the broader canvas of aquatic safety. 

Mayor Melvin Carter – The Architect of Safety

black leaders in aquatic safety

Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Melvin Carter advocates for water competency and swim lessons for youth of all abilities and backgrounds by designing a network of aquatic partners across his city to increase drowning prevention awareness and accessibility to water. Through Mayor Carter’s initiativeshttps://ndpa.org/water-safety-champion-of-the-month-mayor-melvin-carter/, he is sculpting a future for Saint Paul children. One that is free of barriers to swim lessons and increases the opportunity for water competency for all.

Dr. Miriam Lynch – The Sculptor of Opportunity 

black leaders in aquatic safety

As Executive Director of Diversity in Aquatics volunteer coach for the Howard University Swimming & Diving program, Dr. Miriam Lynch pieces together her passion for education and focus on marginalized communities in aquatic safety. Dr. Lynch has worked to break through stereotypes surrounding marginalized communities’ participation in aquatics. She has powerfully combined her background in education and personal love for the water to produce partnerships and pathways to address barriers in aquatics education and safety in communities with high drowning rates. 

Cullen Jones – Olympic Medalist, The Inspirational Illustrator

black leaders in aquatic safety

As a decorated professional swimmer and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Cullen Jones has become an inspirational symbol of hope and motivation in the pool and beyond. As Cullen’s professional career transitioned, he focused his vision and energy on mentoring young Black swimmers and championing water safety education and learn-to-swim programs around the country.

Dr. Andrew Young – The Aquatic Maestro

Dr. Andrew Young, Ambassador, Congressman, Civil Rights Leader, Community Activist, and Exceptional Swimmer are all but a few of the many achievements of the masterful legacy of Dr. Andrew Young. Dr. Young has experienced firsthand the racism and negative history associated with drowning and aquatics in this nation. Throughout his lifetime, Dr. Young has orchestrated policies, appropriated funds, and advocated for ongoing inclusivity in aquatics. His experience and unique skillset have contributed significantly to the overall tapestry of water safety.

This month, as we reflect on the collective masterpiece these leaders have created in their dedication to aquatic safety. We want to thank them and appreciate how their individual strokes of brilliance contribute to a larger picture of safety, diversity, and empowerment. We encourage all readers to recognize the artistry in these leaders’ work and to contribute your own brushstrokes to the evolving picture of aquatic safety.