ABC 7 News reported that Howard University (HU) swimmer, Miles Simon, will make school history at the U.S. 2021 Olympic Trials. He is competing in the men’s 50-meter freestyle. Preliminaries are today. Miles will be only the second swimmer in the Bison’s history to compete in the Olympic trials. Miles’ current coach Director of Swimming & Diving, Nicholas Askew, was the first. The athlete is a sophomore who could not believe that he clocked a 23.11 in the 50-meter freestyle and qualified for the trials located in Omaha, Nebraska.
Miles won 11 races in his first season and broke school records in the 100 IM and 100 backstrokes, according to ABC 7 News.
Howard University Bison’s athletics page stated that the Atlanta native is scheduled to race on June 7 at 8 p.m. in the men’s 50-meter freestyle event. Miles is competing for a spot in the upcoming Summer Games in Tokyo. Swimming World reported that Miles’ case is not typical of most swimmers. Unlike other swimmers from other universities, HU’s athletes do not enroll during fall and spring semesters– putting them at a disadvantage. The junior opened up about his training.
“In Atlanta, I did not have the lane space or a club to go to,” he said. “I went to stay with my former coach, and despite the challenge of not knowing when I (would) swim that week, I gave my all…It was mentally challenging this year. I learned more about myself than ever. At times I had to be my coach, cheerleader, and athlete. Taking on so many positions while trying to improve was difficult. However, I am glad I did because it made me stronger and it prepared me for the future.”
Miles hopes to continue swimming beyond college and inspire other African-American swimmers. And it helps that his mentor and coach look like him.
“It’s different when your coach looks like you and can empathize with you,” he explained to the publication. “I understand that each swimmer chooses their schools on their own merits, but Howard University has provided me the encouragement and representation that other clubs and schools lack.
There is still a swimming gap when it comes to African-American participation in the sport. However, some African-Americans have a history of swimming for leisure. Medium listed six historically Black beaches to visit. In 2012, HuffPost debunked the stereotype that African-Americans do not like to swim while citing reasons that having access to the water is tied to a history of exclusion, especially during the Jim Crow era.