Howard University may already be known as “the Harvard of HBCUs,” but we’re taking a moment to highlight another noteworthy title: the home of our nation’s only all-Black college swim team!
Swim Coach Nic Askew Says ‘Nobody In America’ Can Offer What Howard Can
The Howard swim team was notably featured in Sports Illustrated earlier this month, and coach Nic Askew spoke on how the groundbreaking squad fosters a unique experience that “nobody [else] in America can offer.”
“Nobody in America can offer what we have in our pool. Where else are you going to see this?”
As the publication notes that less than about 1.5% of the nation’s competitive swimmers are Black, Howard is a major force in breaking down barriers within the sport—which has traditionally “shut them out of this experience.”
“This is about our mission as a university and the message we want to send as an HBCU. This isn’t a bunch of Black people in a pool; it’s young Black men and women succeeding in a sport that, for years, has shut them out of this experience.”
In fact, Howard’s swim team is currently in the middle of competing at the Northeast Conference (NEC) Championships. Additionally, the team will hit up the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) National Invitational Championships in March.
In a sport plagued by issues of representation, Howard University coach Nic Askew isn’t just building a strong swimming program.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 1, 2023
The Importance Of ‘Offering Representation’
Regarding the overarching mission of providing a supportive space for Black swimmers, Askew questions, “How many of these kids would have continued swimming in college if it weren’t for Howard?”
He also acknowledges the significance that the school’s swim team can have in getting other young Black athletes interested in the sport, as it’s difficult to get people interested in something when “no one looks like them.”
“How are you going to get a Black boy or girl interested in your sport when they don’t see a future for themselves, because no one looks like them?”
Nic Askew goes on to add, “That’s not offering representation [or] expanding this sport. That’s shutting out an entire group of people.”
Similarly, during a separate interview with NBC News, the Howard University swim coach noted, “It’s bigger than just what we do day-to-day. We have to be the representatives.”
In other words, while the team is dominating the sport, it’s about more than simply garnering accolades—it’s about changing the narrative.
Shoutout to THE illustrious Howard University and its barrier-breaking swim team!