Paulana Lamonier shatters the stereotype that black people don’t swim – Sports Illustrated | WHs Answers

In the series, Sports Illustrated and Empower Onyx shine a spotlight on the diverse journeys of black women in sports – from veteran athletes to rising stars, coaches, executives and more. Elle-evate: 100 Influential Black Women in Sport.


Black People Will Swim has a relatively simple mission: “Crush the stereotype that black people don’t swim.” This statement is proudly proclaimed throughout the Long Island-based company’s website. And for Paulana Lamonier, the company’s founder and CEO, her swimming journey began as a child when her mother enrolled her and her sisters in a local swimming program to keep them busy.

In 2009, while enrolling at CUNY York College, Lamonier was looking for an opportunity to get some exercise and she decided to get back into swimming. For her, that meant relearning how to swim. With the support and encouragement of coaches, her passion for swimming was sparked. After honing her skills in the pool, she joined her college swim team and, inspired by her college coach, Lamonier became a swim coach herself. “My college coach also had a swim club,” says Lamonier. “Seeing firsthand the entrepreneurship of a black coach with a 50-man team in a predominantly white sport gave me an opportunity to see what’s possible.”

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