Howard University added some new faces to compete for the nation’s only HBCU
Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving Teams Division I program. (Courtesy Photo)

By Daniel Kucin Jr.
Special to the AFRO

Howard University added some new faces to compete for the nation’s only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving Teams Division I program. 

The women’s team welcomed six new members, with five coming from different states, including one international student-athlete. On the men’s side, the program boasts seven new additions.

“This is yet another dynamic, elite group of freshmen swimmers,” said Howard Swimming & Diving Head Coach Nicholas Askew. “We have added depth in significant ways that will push our program to newer heights.”

Some new additions have already shown their academic prowess.

Kaliyah Albury, Kristin Chance, Isabella Fountain, Alana Josey, Michaela Spears and Aaliyah Young were all named to the 2020 College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Fall Scholar All-America Team on Jan. 19.

Overall, 44 Bison (23 men & 21 women) were recognized for their academic excellence, including 15 student-athletes earning 4.0-grade point averages (GPAs).

“Our student-athletes deserve a lot of credit,” said Askew. “But thank you to everyone who assisted the team in accomplishing this great achievement despite the difficult times, because it takes a village! Also, special shout out to Dr. Morgan Fisher and the Athletic-Academic support staff!”

The men’s and women’s teams accumulated 3.20 and 3.68 GPAs, respectively, during the Fall semester. More than 450 institutions were named to the CSCAA Scholar All-America Team for the 2020 Fall semester, including 17 programs receiving this honor for the first time.

Albury is the lone international student hailing from the Bahamas, who “envisioned herself attending a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).”  “Howard has an exceptional academic reputation and swimming and diving program,” Albury stated.

Howard also has a swiss army knife of an athlete in Josey who will swim in the Mid-Distance, Distance, Individual Medley, Backstroke and Butterfly competitions.

The York, Penn. native, is majoring in political science and looks forward to swimming for Howard because of its hard-working and dedicated athletes, in her words. 

Xavier Barnes, Daylon Daniel, Jensen Ervin, Spencer Miles, Niles Rankin, Tristan Stevens and Langston Weddington round out the new men’s swimming & diving team members.

“I am thrilled to see these new Bison contributing to our team,” Askew said. “Our team will benefit from their amazing energy and tremendous work ethic. It will be fun and exciting to watch them train and compete. I have no doubt that they will make a huge impact as they work hard to leave their mark.”
Weddington (Breastroke/Backstroke) mentioned that they joined the Howard program “because of the family atmosphere and HBCU culture,” and Miles (Freestyle) said he is with the University because of “its rich history in empowering African-Americans.”

The Northeast Conference’s (NEC) Council of Presidents announced in July of 2020 that Howard joined the NCAA Division I league after formerly being a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) member.

“When we started to discuss this opportunity last January, Howard AD Kery Davis and I recognized that this was a win-win endeavor, as it enhances these Howard sports programs and supports the NEC’s Strategic Plan adopted in June 2019, which seeks to increase brand awareness and support diversity, equity and inclusion,” said NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris after Howard accepted the invitation to join the conference. “We look forward to welcoming the Bison men’s and women’s swim teams this year.”

However, Howard has yet to compete in their inaugural (NEC) 2020-21 campaign after the season was canceled due to COVID-19.

During the 2019-2020 campaign, the Howard men went 6-3 and (4-1) at home while reeling off four winning competitions spanning from Oct. 5 to Nov. 1. The Women only captured four wins but did show progression near the end of the year, going 2-1 to close out the season and were 2-1 in their respective conference.