It’s been a long-going misconception that Black people cannot swim. More specifically, that Black women will not swim in fear that a fabulous hairstyle may be damaged by the water.
In spite of this stereotype, two Stanford University swimmers are making a huge splash as Lia Neal, 21, and Simone Manual, 19, will swim for the U.S. Olympic Team after competing in the Olympic trials. The pair’s success will mark the first time two Black women will compete on the U.S. swim team at the same time. The teammates, and good friends, both qualified to compete in the 4×100 freestyle team this year in Rio.
Brooklyn-born Neal, and Houston-bred Manual are used to making history. Neal won a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay at the 2012 Olympics in London. And in 2015, Neal and Manuel were two of three Black people to place in the top three spots for the 100-yard freestyle during the Women’s NCAA swimming championships. Manuel came in first, and Neal came in second.
Both took to Twitter to express their gratitude to family, friends, and fans for the immense support the accomplishment has been garnering.
I am forever grateful, and dreams really do come true! I’m a 2016 Olympian, and I’m ready for all the good things to come in Rio! –Simone Manuel
Black women have been breaking stereotypes in athletics across the board at an increasingly high rate in 2016. With women like Serena Williams as the highest-paid female athlete according to Forbes, and executives like Shelia Johnson, the first Black woman to have a stake in three professional sports teams [Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Capitals (NHL), Washington Mystics (WNBA)], Black women are leading the way in becoming pioneers in realms deemed exclusive for other races.
We’re excited for this dose of #BlackGirlMagic and have added two new women to watch in the 2016 Olympics!