History teaches us that African people were skilled swimmers and divers centuries ago. The first written account of the crawl or freestyle referred to West Africans in Senegal and Ghana. Swimming and excelling in the water is a part of African history and competitive swimming is a part of the African diaspora’s legacy.
Over more than three centuries, western travelers to West Africa reported that Africans were sound swimmers; several noted that they generally swam better than Europeans and described their use of the freestyle. In the late sixteenth century, the Flemish adventurer Pieter de Marees commented on Gold Coast (Ghanaian) Africans’ freestyle technique, observing “they can swim very fast, generally easily outdoing people of our nation in swimming and diving.”
Kevin Dawson ‘Enslaved Swimmers and Divers in the Atlantic World’
In Ghana, the Akan people created Adinkra symbols as a language with multilayered meanings and definitions. Traditionally, cloth worn during funerals is decorated with the Adinkra symbols in order to give the departing soul a message as it leaves earth. Each Adinkra symbol has a unique appearance as well as a literal and social meaning. Adinkra symbols reflect the history of the Akan people as well as the complexity of traditional Akan social and spiritual existence. The symbols represent cultural and community values as well as the social standards of the Akan people – they are an expression of the Akan world view. When placed on clothing, Adinkra symbols create a multilayered language.While the symbols were originally created by the Akan people, they are now embraced and honored throughout the African diaspora.
Black Kids Swim created the ‘Warrior Swim Cap’ for competitive swimmers to proudly display their fearlessness in the water. The Warrior Cap is decorated with two red Kwatakye Atiko symbols. The Kwatakye Atiko symbol represents the hair cut of a warrior, Kwatakye. Those wearing this hairstyle are expected to be community leaders, courageous, and the holders of traditions. Swimmers wearing the Kwatakye Atiko symbol on their head are reminded of their history and simultaneously inspired to continue the African legacy of excellence in swimming.
The Warrior Swim Cap also displays the Black Kids Swim logo; The Reach. The Reach is comprised of ten curved lines in blue and black representing Black people swimming on top of the water. The Reach symbolizes sustained effort in order to achieve excellence in all areas of life.
The Warrior Cap was created to remind young swimmers that the Black Kids Swim community expects excellence from them. We anticipate all Black swimmers will be honorable and courageous both in the pool and in life.
The Warrior Swim Cap arrives May 25, 2018. Black Kids Swim is now accepting pre-orders.