The Emory swimming & diving program raised $4,775 for the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which focuses on supporting those arrested for protesting social injustice.
Earlier this month, Emory organized a team fundraiser: for every $5 donated on behalf of an Emory team members, that athlete was tasked with 10 minutes of exercise. Over just one weekend, Emory athletes compiled 150 hours of exercise and raised nearly five thousand dollars. The team posted a statement about the fundraiser on Instagram:
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On behalf of the Emory Swim & Dive community, we want to thank you for supporting us in our Sweat-a-Thon fundraiser benefiting the Atlanta Solidarity Fund. Our athletes completed over 150 hours of exercise from your generous donations to raise a total of $4,775! This money will continue to fund an organization dedicated to aiding the Atlanta community in their endeavors to end the racism and violence throughout the country. Our support for this cause does not end here. We will continue to educate ourselves, listen to others, and engage in difficult conversation as a means of bettering ourselves and our community. #flyhigher
The fundraiser came amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers in May. Four Minneapolis police officers have been charged in the killing: Derek Chauvin faces second-degree murder, among other charges, and J. Alexander Keung, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting murder.
Emory’s fundraiser came after a public statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement:
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The Emory Swim & Dive team recognizes that we come from a place of privilege. We try to live by values of diversity and inclusion, but we would not be upholding these values if we stayed silent during this time. We stand in full support for the black lives movement. We encourage all teams, athletes, and staff to engage in this conversation and take the time to listen to each other and to educate each other and to advocate for justice. #flyhigher Please note: See our athletes’ stories for more information on how we are affecting change in the Atlanta community in support of the Movement for Black Lives.
The Atlanta Solidarity Fund provides support for people who are arrested at protests or prosecuted for being involved with social justice movements, according to its website.
Zoe Walker is a rising junior for Emory. She said the team had already been sharing workouts with apps like Strava and Zoom, even while the Emory roster was scattered across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“That team closeness led to us being able to create the fundraiser idea together and know that this could be successful because we excel at working together towards a common goal,” Walker said. “We were involved in something that was bigger than the team, making a change in our society, pushing for racial justice and equality.”
A team fundraiser directed at the issue of racial justice hit home for Walker, who spoke to SwimSwam about growing up as a Black woman in a predominantly white sport.
“Most of my social interactions are with friends that I’ve made through swimming,” Walker said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with people who experience the world differently than I do as a result of race. That has always been a disconnect for me, often being one of only a few people of color on deck or in practice.
“I’ve always loved swimming and love the people that I’ve been surrounded with since I started the sport, and especially at Emory, but being a minority in such a large majority will always have an effect on me.”
Walker said she’s been fortunate not to have experienced many hurtful interactions in the sport based on race, but also shared how even just pointing out differences can make someone feel ostracized in the sport.
“There have been a couple of times when people have made insensitive comments that I don’t think were intended to be hurtful, but they served to highlight my difference as a black swimmer in a negative way,” Walker said.
We asked for advice for coaches and swimmers who want to avoid those unintentionally hurtful comments and make their programs feel more welcoming to swimmers of all races.
“Ask about the small things that might have impacts unknown on swimmers who are not in the majority,” Walker said. “Fostering team conversations about race, ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, as well as inclusiveness creates an environment where people are willing to share difficult experiences they may have encountered.”
Emory swimmer Cailen Chinn shared the following photos of the team exercising to raise the funds.
“I have never felt a stronger sense of pride in my Emory Swim & Dive community,” Chinn said. “I hope that this inspires other teams across the country to affect change in their local communities as much as we have in ours.”