Maritza Correia – first African-American Olympic swimmer

correia.jpgIn 2004, Maritza Correia became the first African-American woman to be on the U.S. Olympic swim team and first African-American woman ever to set an American record in swimming (50 y free).

A silver medalist in 400m free relay at the Athens Olympics, Correia is known for her ability to anchor relays with great success and run down opponents – “As soon as I dive in, my goal is to catch as many people as I can,” Correia said.

After a disappointing performance at the 2000 Olympic Trials, Correia almost quit the sport. However, with her teammates, coaches and her mother, Correia was convinced to give it another shot in 2004. “Looking back at 2000, I was a very inexperienced international swimmer, and changes needed to be made,” Correia said. “I knew that I had to make more national teams and more trips and gain some experience, which would help my confidence. ” She went on to break numerous SEC records, NCAA records, American records, and was continuously one of the top swimmers in her events.

Born two days before Christmas in 1983 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Correia began swimming  at age seven when her doctor recommended swimming as therapy for her severe scoliosis. The next year, her family moved to Tampa, Florida.  Correia attended the University of Georgia as a pre-medicine major and graduated in 2003, with a degree in “Exercise and Sports Science”.  She was a member of the Lady Bulldogs Swim Team.

Correia is featured in the film Parting the Waters - a documentary about a new generation of competitive black and Latino swimmers – and is prepping for the Beijing Olympics.  She also plans to do swim clinics in inner cities and deliver motivational lectures. Correia hopes that providing young minority girls with a swimming role model will be a key step in bringing the sport to their communities.

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  1. [...] Maritza Correia  is part of a new generation of competitive African-American swimmers. In addition to current [...]

  2. [...] A big thanks to the Women’s Sports Foundation for the stellar event and my hosts, Crystal Allene Cook and. Stacy Smith of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender Media, and the guest athlete at our table – Maritza Correia. [...]