To empower the Black community, to swim regularly, improve confidence & water safety skills, support each other to maintain their physical fitness and mental well-being, and save lives.
By Katrice Rodrigues - Founder of Afro Aquatics
I have always loved swimming ever since I could remember. My parents put me in swimming lessons and I learnt to swim at around age 5 at the Hinckley Leisure Centre, and was told that my first swimming badge was 100m as I just kept going after 1 length to do 4.
I started swimming for a local swimming club Leicester Penguin's age 8 and still remember my first swimming gala when I won the 1 length butterfly and managed to finish teeth first. I was swimming around 3 times a week training twice and representing my club most Saturday afternoons at pools all over the midlands and north of the UK.
At age 14, I started to coach and became team manager of the girls’ team of 7-12 year olds, and continued to swim for my club at the time, Leicester Neptune swimming club, as we had moved to the Leicester City area. I do not remember seeing any other swimmers that were from an Afro Caribbean background apart from me and my brother. There were a couple of Indian families but that was it no more brown faces.
My club paid for me to do my Assistant Swim Teachers qualification as soon as I was 16 and I started to teach part time alongside my studies at collage, for Leicester City Council. When I started teaching swimming and lifeguarding around the various pools in Leicester, again I did not see many black faces teaching or as lifeguards. Defiantly not in proportion to the population of the African and Caribbean community of Leicester.
I also worked part time as a swimming teacher when I moved to Wolverhampton to attend University. It was also a similar story with the lack of black representation amongst my colleagues when I worked for Wolverhampton City Council and Dudley Borough Council.
I continued to teach swimming part time until 2007 when I qualified as a Secondary School Art and Design Teacher. I did not stay away from swimming for long, because in 2014 I qualified as a Level 2 Swim Teacher and started to teach for Penguins Swim Academy who swim at Leicester Grammar School pool and still work there now. In 2012, I was lucky enough to be a games maker at the Aquatics Centre during the London 2012 Olympics.
In 2019 I decided to combine my love of teaching with my passion of swimming and became a Swim England Tutor, where I now deliver Swim Teacher courses. It has been a steep learning curve, I have learnt so much, but I loved working with adults and inspiring them to be the next generation of teachers. Being a dyslexic learner and having to adapt to working online through the pandemic has not been easy, but I just love being involved in the Aquatics world.
I have known that I have wanted to set up something like Afro Aquatics for some time to address the negativity around swimming associated with the black community. So here we are, I have got a group of committee members who also believe in our vision in getting more black people swimming regularly.
I am also supporting Swim England's #EnglandSwimms and #LeicesterSwimms campaigns. They have launched a national survey to get information from everybody to increase the diversity of people who swim regularly. Please support share and take the survey https://discover.swimming.org/england-swims/ (See me featured in the Swim England article below)
Afro Aquatics needs supporters like you to share our story, support our vision and help to get members to join our adult's weekly Swim Tuition coming soon