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Henrico woman looks to end stereotypes in the water

Image of Latonya Moyer teaching a woman how to swim by the side of the pool.
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VPM News Focal Point
Latonya Moyer has taught as many as 100 people to swim in a summer. Her mission: to try to end the stereotype that persons of color don’t know how to swim.

A Henrico woman has made it her mission to end the stereotype that Black women don’t know how to swim. She has taught more than 100 people to swim, most of whom are women of color.  

TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO

LaTONYA MOYER: Push. I am the owner, CEO of Black Girls Do Swim, LLC.

Oh, you want to do it?

YOUNG STUDENT: I did it!

LaTONYA MOYER: The purpose of the organization is to increase diversity in aquatics by teaching lessons to a demographic that is wildly underserved in Richmond area. In this area, there were public pools, but they were closed after desegregation, and most of the pools that are available in Eastern and Western Henrico are club-based. They're very expensive. We don't have a large population of minorities that swim. We don't have access to the proper facilities.

Even the high schools have swim teams or they offer swim teams, but they don't have the ability to compete because they don't have coaches, but I am focused mostly on adults. They have a higher risk of drowning than kids do 'cause kids in the Richmond area are required to take swimming lessons in the second grade. There's a difference in how you teach adults and how you teach kids. With an adult, you need to explain to them what they're doing and why they're doing it, whereas a kid, you just tell them to do whatever and they do it, so you have to factor in the life experience. You have to factor in that fear.

DARIA LOMAX: Pretty much the fear of drowning is preventing me. It's like a mental block.

LaTONYA MOYER: And it's much easier to teach a demographic when the instructors and the lifeguards look like them. For me, I have a unique take on swimming, since I didn't learn how to swim until I was in my mid-40s, and that was due to me moving into triathlon. Triathlon is running, biking, and swimming, but I didn't know how to swim, and I didn't own a bike, and so I went and joined a triathlon club, Central Virginia Endurance Triathlon, and the coach there taught me how to swim. In triathlon, it's very non-diverse in that field, and it's because of swimming.

LaTONYA MOYER TO STUDENT: Make sure you're breathing.

My father has a fear of the water. Most of my family has that fear of the water that's just been ingrained through generations of not being able to swim. I am most of the staff, so I do everything. I do the teaching. I work a full-time job during the day, I teach lessons normally in the evening at the Y, I'll teach lessons on the side at my home. In the summer, I could teach 100 people.

LaTONYA MOYER TO STUDENT: All this little body should be on the surface of the water.

DARIA LOMAX: Pretty awesome. I know most older people, like once they get to a certain age, maybe even around my age, they just think, "Ah, forget it," and they don't even try, so it's pretty cool that she went ahead and did it.

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Billy Shields is a multimedia journalist with VPM News Focal Point.
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