Black Swimming Association (BSA) and Community Leisure UK (CLUK), which specialises in charitable trusts delivering public leisure and culture services, have partnered to further ethnic diversity in aquatics.
CLUK represents 112 leisure and culture trusts in England, Scotland, and Wales, which employ over 100,000 members and welcome over 400 million visitors a year. The new partnership is the first of its kind between the two bodies.
Both BSA and CLUK will work with its members to address the barriers preventing diverse engagement in aquatics, including increasing the participation of people from African, Caribbean, and Asian communities and “understanding the aquatic behaviours of these communities.”
CLUK will provide a nationwide platform for public leisure providers to discuss and address ethnic diversity within aquatics. At the same time, the BSA will bring its relationship with these communities to “provide visibility, build trust and bridge them with the sector.”
As part of the partnership, CLUK will aim to prioritise workforce diversification within public leisure, including equal access and opportunities, and encourage diversity in leadership positions.
The FINA scandal
The news comes after the International Swimming Federation (FINA) received criticism for not allowing swimming caps designed for natural Black hair at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The organisation has since declared that it will review this decision.
Commenting on the situation, Danielle Obe, Chair and co-founder of the BSA, said: “Just over a week after we celebrated the success of Alice Dearing becoming the first Black woman to represent Team GB in swimming at the Olympic Games, we are extremely disappointed to learn about FINA’s decision. It’s one we believe will no doubt discourage many younger athletes from ethnic minority backgrounds from pursuing competitive swimming.
“The Soul Cap swim hats – specifically used by people with long, voluminous and Afro hair – were barred by FINA because ‘to the best of their knowledge, the athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require to use caps of such size and configuration.
“We believe this statement made by FINA confirms what we already know: the lack of diversity in elite swimming and in the higher positions in global aquatics and the lack of urgency for change.
“We stand with Soul Cap and the other businesses, charities, organisations, and individuals who are putting in the work to diversify aquatics. FINA and the global aquatics sector must do better.”
Speaking on the partnership, Kirsty Cumming, CEO of CLUK, said: “We are delighted to formalise a partnership with the BSA and look forward to working together to address some of the challenges within aquatics. The BSA will bring expertise to support our members with their work and ambitions, and our members can offer insight to the challenges from an operator perspective.”
Obe added: “We are thrilled to have the backing and support of Community Leisure UK. I’m confident that by bringing the strengths of the two organisations together, we can make real change in the aquatics sector.”
To find out more about the Black Swimming Association (BSA), please click here.