North Carolina A&T‘s swim team filled our hearts with pride when images of the young women emerged last month. With those beautiful images, the women chipped away at the stereotypes about Black athleticism.
But the team, who adopted the motto “Black girls do swim,” has swum it’s last meet. North Carolina A&T shuttered the program.
According to The Guardian, the team suffered from budget constraints, less-than-stellar performances, and a lack of competition in their conference.
According to the rules, there have to be five teams from schools in the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference in order to compete. That means even if the team was saved, and Howard University maintains their team, three other institutions would have to add varsity swim teams in order to be acknowledged. Florida A&M’s swim team concluded during the 2011-12 season and then tried to resuscitate it. Those efforts were unsuccessful.
The team’s coach says that the program has been on the chopping block for years, and they’ve battled to stay afloat. When they did not have enough team members to meet the NCAA’s minimum, coach Shawn Hendrix held an open try-out to fill the slots.
NC A&T’s swim team was rare and important. There are 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Now, only one of them, Howard University, has a swim team. Howard’s team is not all-Black. Hendrix told The Guardian, “There are about a hundred African American swimmers in the NCAA and I have 11 of them.”
No matter the outcome, Shawn and her team should be proud of themselves.