Black Kids Swim Inc., a Maryland-based nonprofit that serves as a resource for Black competitive swimmers, recently launched a first-of-its-kind web series to unite African-Americans and Senegalese through cultural and athletic exchange.

This year will mark the 33rd Dakar Gorée swim, where hundreds of Senegalese retrace the same path enslaved Africans traveled some 400 years ago. The nonprofit’s  “The Gorée Project” will chronicle the first time in history that an African- American team competes in this symbolic event.

Ebony Rosemond

“There is strength in unity,” said Ebony Rosemond, founder and executive director of Black Kids Swim. “The African Diaspora needs to come together, especially now, to better protect and support one another. But first, we need to better understand each other. We’ve put an all-star team together to prepare Howard University alumni, Skylar Smith and Noah Nicholas for this experience— physically, mentally, and culturally. And as viewers, both Senegalese and American, will follow this story. We will begin to break down the stereotypes that have kept the Diaspora fractured for so long.”

Competitive swimming is not diverse. USA Swimming, the nation’s organizing body for the sport has some 337,000 members, of whom only 1.3 percent are Black. Juan Caraveo, a sports diversity and inclusion consultant for USA Swimming, called the 2016 US Olympic swim team “the most diverse yet.”

However, out of 47 swimmers, only three identified as African-American: Simone Manuel, Lia Neal and Anthony Ervin.

According to NCAA’s demographic database, there were 22,501 swimmers across all divisions and conferences during the 2017-2018 school year. Notably, only 1.6 percent identified as African—American, while 76 percent identified as White. African Americans are barely present in collegiate swimming as swimmers or coaches.

Noah Nicholas and Skylar Smith

Currently, Howard University is the only HBCU with a swim team.

BKS’ goal with “The Gorée Project” is to destroy the stereotype that Black people can’t or won’t swim by showcasing Black swimmers excelling in the sport. The organization also hopes to educate African-Americans and Senegalese about their respective history and culture to build community.

The web series is funded through generous donations from the Black swim community and a crowdsource campaign which will launch July 14, 2020 on Black Kids Swim’s website. The Gorée Project was created in a COVID-19 environment and in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests. BKS and its production team combined innovative videography and live action screen casting to capture this historic journey.

More information on The Gorée Project: https://blackkidsswim.com/the-goree-project-the-beginning/

The Gorée Project crowdfund page: https://BlackKidsSwim.com/the-Goree-project

More information on Black Kids Swim: https://BlackKidsSwim.com