Howard University’s All Black Swim Team Makes a Big Splash Winning Their First Title in Over 30 Years

Black men continue to make major strides in sports. Howard University’s Men’s Swimming and Diving Team just added another one.

ABC News reported the team took home the 2023 title of the Northeast Conference Men’s Swimming and Diving champions – the first conference win for the team in 34 years. The historic win happened in Geneva, OH, where the team was the runner-up last year. Team coach, Nicholas Askew, says the feeling is amazing. “It just feels phenomenal to know that there’s this group of young men and young women who believed that it was possible, even when we were first getting started and all kinds of things were not going our way.”

According to WJLA, the team accumulated 928 points, winning by a smooth 169-point margin. LIU was the runner-up, followed by St. Francis Brooklyn and Wagner. Some team members won individual accolades, including senior Miles Simon, who earned NEC Swimmer of the Meet after breaking a record in the 200-meter individual medley. Niles Rankin earned his first medal of the championship week by finishing second with a time of 2:02.91, and Jordan Walker set a new meet record in the three-meter dive.

Howard is the only HBCU with a surviving swim program, and the only all-Black swim team in the country – coaches and supporting staff included. The team strives for diversity in a sport that doesn’t see competitors that look like them often. NCAA data showed that out of close to 300,000 competitive swimmers, only 1.5% are Black. Black swimmers make up 2% of swimmers at the collegiate level.

Askew feels there are ways to bridge the gap in the Black community and the stigma in swimming, like education. “Being able to have ‘learn to swim’ programs that can lead to a life in the aquatic arena, not just in a competitive swim,” the coach said, “but also in diving and synchro swimming and water polo and all other water sports that we have the opportunity to participate in.”