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The Howard University’s men’s swimming and diving team won the 2023 Northeastern Conference Championship over the weekend.
The Howard Bison Men’s swim and diving team won the Northeastern Conference Championship by a wide margin of 169 points, scoring a team total 928 points during the five-day meet. It was the university’s first conference title in 34 years.
Not only did the Bison walk away with a championship trophy, they also made history as the only all-Black collegiate swimming and diving team in the country.
“Wherever we go, we stand out and this time, I think we stood out in a very good way,” Senior Joel Wilkinson said.
The Bison were led by senior Miles Simon, who broke so many records that he lost track.
“I honestly did. I did lose track. I want to say about 10,” Simon said.
The Bison women’s team also was present, finishing fourth but bringing home records as well.
“Not just some. If you look over at the record board, we’re almost going to have to completely revamp it,” Head Coach Nicholas Askew said. “I think we’ve counted a total of 31 new records in the men’s team and women’s team combined.”
Howard University men’s team swims to success
In a sport that has been dominated by White people, the win by the Howard University Bison have given the student-athletes a new level of celebrity.
“I would go into buildings and people who we didn’t even know knew about the swim team would come and be like, ‘Oh, aren’t you with Howard swim and dive, oh congratulations!’ I think it’s very important for all of us to remember where we are coming from and how far we’ve come,” said Wilkinson. “So to be here now, it’s amazing.”
The representation of Black athletes in swimming is not lost on coach Askew, and he knows what it means to the Black community.
“To be able to be out in front to be that representation to shine the way that we do. I mean, I’ve received so many emails, text messages, DM’s, all kinds of things, and kudos from families saying ‘thank you, you know, now I’m going to get my young one involved in swimming’ and not just from a competitive standpoint, but more importantly as a water safety skill, learning how to swim.”
Members of the Howard University Bison men’s swimming and diving team who qualified will move on to Nationals. It will be held in Indiana on March 8.