Provide a safe space, to improve swimming confidence, positive mental health, fitness, water safety and aquatics career support and funding for Black and Asian communities.
Katrice talks to ITV News about stereotypes in swimming
By Katrice Rodrigues - Founder of Afro Aquatics
I have always loved swimming ever since I could remember. My parents put me in swimming lessons and I learnt to swim at around age 5 at the Hinckley Leisure Centre and was told that my first swimming badge was 100m as I just kept going after 1 length to do 4.
I started swimming for a local swimming club Leicester Penguin's age 8 and still remember my first swimming gala when I won the 1-length butterfly and managed to finish teeth first. I was swimming around 3 times a week training twice and representing my club most Saturday afternoons at pools all over the Midlands and North of the UK.
At age 14, I started to coach and became team manager of the girls’ team of 7-12 year-olds, and continued to swim for my club at the time, Leicester Neptune swimming club, as we had moved to the Leicester City area. I do not remember seeing any other swimmers from an Afro-Caribbean background apart from me and my brother. There were a couple of Indian families but that was it no more brown faces.
My club paid for me to do my Assistant Swim Teachers qualification as soon as I was 16 and I started to teach part-time alongside my studies at college, for Leicester City Council. When I started teaching swimming and lifeguarding around the various pools in Leicester, again I did not see many black faces teaching or as lifeguards. Definitely not in proportion to the population of the African and Caribbean communities of Leicester.
I also worked part-time as a swimming teacher when I moved to Wolverhampton to attend University. It was also a similar story with the lack of black representation amongst my colleagues when I worked for Wolverhampton City Council and Dudley Borough Council.
I continued to teach swimming part-time until 2007 when I qualified as a Secondary School Art and Design Teacher. I did not stay away from swimming for long, because in 2014 I qualified as a Level 2 Swim Teacher and started to teach for Penguins Swim Academy who swim at Leicester Grammar School pool and still work there now. In 2012, I was lucky enough to be a games maker at the Aquatics Centre during the London 2012 Olympics.
In 2019 I decided to combine my love of teaching with my passion for swimming and became a Swim England Tutor, where I now deliver Swim Teacher courses. It has been a steep learning curve, I have learnt so much, but I loved working with adults and inspiring them to be the next generation of teachers. Being a dyslexic learner and having to adapt to working online through the pandemic has not been easy, but I just love being involved in the Aquatics world.
I had wanted to set up Afro Aquatics for some time to address the negativity around swimming associated with the black community. So here we are, I have got a group of committed directors who also believe in our vision of getting more black people swimming regularly and working in aquatics.
Afro Aquatics needs supporters like you to share our story, support our vision and help to get members to join our adult's weekly Swim Tuition, 1-1 classes and swim regularly.
Afro Aquatics speaks to The Voice
Making Swimming more Diverse
Swim England Interviews Afro Aquatics Katrice Rodrigues
Kat shares her experiance of the swimming world
Diversity within aquatics still has a long way to go