British Swim School Owner Breaks The Stereotype and Embraces Diversity

The lingering stereotype that black people can’t or don’t swim well certainly didn’t occur to Cain as a child. She began competing at age 4 in her native Jamaica. She earned a swimming scholarship to the private Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale after her family moved to Florida when she was 13.

Not until her days at historically black Howard University did Karese Cain realize she was an anomaly in the swimming world. It didn’t bother her that she was the only black swimmer on her high school team, or that most of the athletes she competed against in college were white. This future franchise owner embraced her diversity in the world of swimming.

Cain and another British Swim School employee, Maybelline Yurco, teamed up last year to buy a franchise. The women run locations at gyms in Miramar and Hollywood and will be opening one in Pembroke Pines.

Although black parents are eager for their kids to learn to swim, Cain notices that black students are still less interested in competing. She hopes this will change as more elite role models emerge. In 2004, Martiza McClendon was the first black female swimmer to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2004. American Cullen Jones won four medals in men’s swimming, including two golds, at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

“It was a big thing, and even some of the African-American students in our program have come to me and said, ‘I want to swim like her, and I want to get a scholarship for swimming,'” Cain says. “It really motivated them. And I’m glad for that.


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