Simone Manuel Visits LeBron James’ I Promise School in Akron

Olympic champion Simone Manuel paid a visit to NBA superstar LeBron James‘ new school in Akron, Ohio, Friday.

She spoke as an ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation, which will provide free swim lessons to every student at a camp in June 2019, according to Manuel’s Instagram post.

View this post on Instagram

HAPPY FRIYAY!! My heart ❤️ is happy and filled with joy! So honored to visit IPromise school to share my experience and talk about water safety and the importance of learning to swim! Many thanks to @usaswimming foundation and @akronareaymca for partnering together to provide swim lessons at a week long camp in June 2019 for every student! Working to change the statistic and give the life saving gift of swimming. #wearefamily #striveforgreatness

A post shared by Simone Manuel (@swimone) on

The I Promise School opened last summer and currently serves students in grades three and four, with plans to teach grades one through eight by 2022. The school is specifically designed to cater to at-risk youth in the Akron area and features 8-5 school days with a shortened summer vacation. There are also family-oriented programs, including GED courses for parents.

Since she turned professional last year, Manuel has been vocal about her desire to lower the high drowning rate within the black population through her work with the Foundation, which provides swim lessons to communities nationwide – regardless of students’ ability to pay.

Back in 2016 when she became the first black American woman to win swimming gold, James posted on Instagram to congratulate both Manuel and gold-medal gymnast Simone Biles and called them “truly inspiring especially for so many young black girls.”

View this post on Instagram

Simone + Simone = Gold🏅🏅!!! Congrats young Queens!! Truly inspiring for so many especially young black girls. My daughter was watching with me. #GoUSA #GoldStandard

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Now, all three athletes – James, Biles, and Manuel – are a part of Nike’s 30th-anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. Manuel’s most recent spot reads: “Be the first champion like you, then make sure you’re not the last.”

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Chooch

Well done, Simone! Nice to see big swimmers helping little swimmers. Next time you’re in Akron, come join us for a workout. (We’ll save the fast lane for you!)

Yozhik

Of all eight little children on this picture none of them are white. Are they not welcome or this school is located in the area that is mostly populated by people of color?

2014Alum

YOZHIK…What a silly post

Yozhik

Maybe silly, maybe not. Can you imagine this school full of white children and a few of black ones? Just because of the simple statistics that there are more white kids in US than black ones. Will Simone continue on her mission if her group of CHILDREN will be mostly white, because swimming isn’t that popular among black kids as basketball or football. Why is this so necessary to emphasise that the children can be of different ethnic origin. It is adults who make children known that they are minority and in many case they are doing that for the purposes that has nothing to do with children’s wellbeing. If Simone says that she is going to teach children swimming… Read more »

DWY

The school is for under privileged students and families which, in Akron specifically and the US at large, are largely POC. So you know, it makes sense the kids pictured are POC.

Additionally, in the USA access to aquatic facilities is often limited by income and location which means African American children learn to swim at much lower rates than white children and drown at 5.5 times the rate of white children.

Sinati

Seriously, have you ever read a U.S. history book, at all? Do you know anything about the history of African Americans and access to pools? Did you even try to do any research about this school or the local area before you posted?

It me

What is wrong with you?

Bearly Breathing

This story made me feel good.

Miami

On the downside, Simone Manuel’s sneakers pulled a Zion Williamson on her and split in two as she walked through the school, so she resorted to the flats shown in picture, LOL.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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