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York Alumna Featured on TV News for Swimming Program

Paulana Lamonier '14, who once competed as a member of the women's swimming team, now teaches the skill.

After learning a life skill as a freshman member of the York College women's swimming team, Paulana Lamonier '14 was determined to help beginner swimmers go from fearful to fearless.

Lamonier, who competed in the pool for the Cardinals from 2009-13 as a journalism and english major, is the founder and CEO of Black People Will Swim, a purpose-driven organization working to smash the stereotype that Black people don't swim.  She nurtured her love for swimming and became inspired to teach others how to conquer their fear of water. For over a decade, she has shared her passion for swimming by working with swim clubs, teams, and gyms to build a community with her students.

Alex Ciccarone covered Lamonier's story in a recent feature on ABC 7 New York titled 'Black People Will Swim breaks stereotypes one pool at a time'. Read more about Lamonier below or visit Black People Will Swim breaks stereotypes one pool at a time.

For Paulana Lamonier, taking a dip in the pool is an act of joy.

She took swimming lessons growing up and developed a love for the sport. But it was as a college swimmer that she first realized there weren't many Black people in the pool with her.

"The stereotype that Black people don't swim is clearly racist" said Lamonier, who discovered this stereotype through the clients she now teaches to swim.

It stems from slavery, they were trying to keep Black people away from water for a number of reasons, so they don't run away. As time goes on and as Black people started to get more freedom, they were finding ways to keep Black people still out of the waterPaulana Lamonier

In 2019, Lamonier took to social media to pledge that she would teach 30 Black people how to swim after having success with one of her first clients, 31-year-old Yolelda Ira.

Her tweet went viral, with many people of color retweeting and sharing their fears and stories about the stereotype. 

This past March, Lamonier created Black People Will Swim, an organization dedicated to teaching people of color of all ages how to swim through the initials F.A.C.E., encouraging the community to FACE their fears.

"This movement is important," said Ira, who is now on her sixth lesson with Lamonier, and is already more comfortable in the pool.

She is bringing it forward and giving people the opportunity that they never grew up with. I just pray that in the future, this company will grow and more people will take advantage of learning how to swim and breaking the stereotype, Ira

Data from the USA Swimming Foundation in 2019 showed that 64 percent of Black children have no or low swimming ability - and Black People Will Swim is determined to change that.

For anyone who is scared to learn how to swim who's on the fence, who has one foot in one foot out, feel the fear and do it anyway, You're going to be scared, but this is what makes you, you, and this is what life is all about. We spent a year inside scared ... Why waste time and just go for it.  Paulana Lamonier

Learn more about BPWS by visiting blackpeoplewillswim.com.


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