The Howard Bison, the only all-Black team in collegiate swimming, has become the first all-Black swim and dive team to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine.
The sports magazine began covering the Howard University swim and dive team at the start of the fall season in October of last year. Both the men’s and women’s teams are on track to become Northeast Conference champions.
As reported by The Hilltop, the team’s members come from all over the Americas and the Caribbean, and they have been breaking barriers since then, as college athletics continue to face issues of underrepresentation. Per Sports Illustrated, less than 1.5% of the country’s 295,078 competitive swimmers are Black in the United States.
In the past few years, three more HBCUs started swimming programs but those programs ended due to a lack of funds and interest in the sport. Howard is thus the only HBCU with a swim team. Raychel Fauntroy, captain of Howard University’s women’s swim and dive team, said she is excited that the team has been featured in the prestigious sports magazine.
“When Coach Nic asked me to be in the photo shoot for it, I was really shocked that they wanted to do an article and feature us. A lot of people don’t know Howard has a swim team let alone the only HBCU with one,” Fauntroy said to The Hilltop.
The Sports Illustrated feature looked at the history of swimming in the Black community and the achievements made by Howard in the game.
“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,” the swim program’s coach, Nicholas Askew, told Sports Illustrated.
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