The swim team at Howard University in D.C. is celebrating a major victory this week after winning the Northeast Conference championship on Sunday — marking the team’s first conference title in more than 30 years.
Head coach Nicholas Askew said the team “came out victorious” in the five-day event held in Geneva, Ohio.
The team has recently experienced a surge in success, and it’s drawing attention from both the swimming community and the wider public.
In the event that concluded Sunday, Howard University’s swim team accumulated 928 points, winning by a 169-point margin. Long Island University was the runner-up with 759 points followed by St. Francis Brooklyn at 634 points and Wagner, which finished with 539 points.
“It’s a very exciting time right now,” said Askew. “To be able to compete at this high of a level and to win, especially in a sport that is underrepresented by minorities, is a major feat.”
There are more than 100 schools in the country identified as “Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” and Howard University is the only one that has a swim program.
It has caught the attention of national media outlets, and the university’s success has been celebrated by sports enthusiasts and advocates for HBCUs.
“To win a conference championship as an HBCU is pretty amazing,” Askew said.
Not only is the team making history, but they are tearing down stereotypes.
Howard University’s success challenges misconceptions about the abilities of Black swimmers and shows that HBCUs can compete in a sport where Black athletes are few and far between, according to Askew.
“There is that myth out there that Blacks don’t swim and it’s something that we’re working desperately hard to overcome every single day,” said Askew.
The team is not done yet because they will next head to Indiana for a national competition — the CSCAA National Invitational Championship — which will be held from March 9 to 11.