Charlotte’s ‘Evolutionary Aquatics’ Club Creates Safe Space For Black Adults To Learn To Swim
Charlotte swim coach Nadine Ford is helping eliminate the stereotype that Black people don’t swim.
As the executive director of Evolutionary Aquatics, a swim club teaching adults how to swim, Ford is dedicated to the club of primarily Black adult members who are learning to confidently navigate the water. According to the North Carolina nonprofit, the mission of Evolutionary Aquatics, LLC, is to “reteach Black adults their authentic and genetic aquatic culture.”
View this post on Instagram
“People want to learn how to swim,” Ford told WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR station. “They may have had trauma, they may not have had access. Or maybe they took lessons, and they just wanted to get stronger.”
The recreational aquatics club offers members four levels of swim instruction led by certified instructors and coaches: Level 1: Introduction to Water Skills; Level 2: Fundamental Water Skills; Level 3: Stroke Development and Level 4: Stroke Improvement & Refinement.
“We believe every adult should, at a minimum, know how to be safe and comfortable in the water, and at a maximum, learn to swim and utilize swimming as a self and generational life-saving skill,” the organization’s website says.
Evolutionary Aquatics formed in 2014 under a private club called Mahogany Mermaids, which in 2018, became the only all-Black women swim club registered with U.S. Masters Swimming before it expanded to include men. The aquatics club also offers programs for kayaking, led by kayaking members of the American Canoe Association, as well as several out-of-water activities.
Ford shared with WFAE that Evolutionary Aquatics has curated a space for the Black community to openly discuss different life experiences.
“We talk about our hair a lot because it’s our crown; it’s part of what we do. We may talk about products that make your hair more curly or enhance your natural curl pattern because we have curly hair,” Ford said. “We will discuss swimsuit fits because most Black women are curvy…we discuss swimsuits that will cover our curves. We’ll talk about modern politics as it affects our culture or whatever is going to affect us.”
Swim lessons with Evolutionary Aquatics are offered at affordable prices at a 10-foot-deep outdoor pool in South Park.