Diversity in swimming has always been an issue. In the United States, the overwhelming majority of swimmers are white. According to a 2019 Swimming Membership Demographics report, only 0.8% of their 327,337 swimmers were Black men, and 0.6% Black women.
Although swimming is a physical activity that many Black women and girls enjoy, a common reason many avoid swimming is the damaging effect swimming can have on Black hair. This is a justifiable reason for hair care protection and an area the International Swimming Federation (FINA) — which has banned the use of swimming caps designed for natural Black hair at this summer’sTokyo Olympics — needs to understand.