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Olympic swimmers make waves ahead of Summer Games

Why has the U.S. Olympic swimming team featured so few African American athletes?
Why has the U.S. Olympic swimming team featured so few African American athletes?
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Ready your flags and set your stopwatches. The London Games kick off in a matter of weeks.

Big news yesterday came from the elite of the elite. Swimmer Michael Phelps decided he will not attempt a repeat of his Beijing record. Instead of competing for eight possible medals, Phelps is dropping the 200 meter freestyle. "It's so much smarter for me to do that," Phelps told the Associated Press. "We're not trying to recreate what happened in Beijing. It just makes sense." Would the pressure have been too much? Is Phelps winning the mental game already by dampening fans' expectations?

Other news out of the swimming qualifying trials that just wrapped up sees three black Americans going for gold in London. They follow in the wake of very few black Olympians in the pool. The United States swim team has never had more than a single team member of African-American descent and never had a single one before 2000, according to The New York Times.

Why is that? Is the sport inaccessible to African Americans? And what's the connection to drowning statistics for black children? The Centers for Disease Control reports that the fatal drowning rate of African American children is almost three times that of white children in the same age range. Why?


Mr. Pat Forde, National Columnist, Yahoo! Sports; Forde will be covering the swim events at the Summer Games; he was in Omaha, Nebraska for the qualifying trials.

Jim Bauman, Sport Psychologist consultant with USA Swimming – working with Olympians and other champions; Sports Psychologist for University of Virginia's athletics program; Bauman joins us from Omaha, Nebraska – where Olympic Team Trials just wrapped.

Bruce Wigo, Swimming Historian and President of the International Swimming Hall of Fame

Genai Kerr, represented the USA in Water Polo at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens