Pre-Show Panel Discussion with Black Swimming Initiative
As part of The People's Party BIPOC Affinity Night for the ripple, the wave that carried me home, join us for a pre-show discussion with Morgan Spriggs and Emily Lightpipe, co-founders of Black Swimming Initiative, joined by Morgan's daughter, Erica Spriggs, and WaterStrong partner Dena Marshall, as they talk about their vision for a world where racism is eliminated from the aquatics and water sports; and where individuals can access bodies of water with confidence in themselves and be welcomed by all. This conversation will be moderated by Kamilah Bush, Literary Manager at Portland Center Stage.
Black Swimming Initiative expands meaningful participation in water sports by providing a strong sense of belonging for Black athletes of all backgrounds, abilities, and lifestyles, by supporting safe and accessible water safety and swimming instruction. blackswimpdx.us
With the help of friends, Morgan started his journey of swimming in 2013. Early on, he would start with a front crawl and end up on his back doing an elementary backstroke. His fear of the water eventually faded as he and his youngest daughter spent time playing in the water. “As she learned to be confident in the water, I gained strength from her.” His persistence led to his accomplishing a 3.8K swim in open water in 2020. In 2021, he successfully completed a 140.6 triathlon; his next goal is to complete the Portland Bridge Swim held in the Willamette.
Emily is from Portland and, although she knew how to doggy paddle her way across a pool, she didn’t learn to swim well until she was 38. With the help and support of friends, she became comfortable swimming laps in a pool and a lover of swimming in lakes and rivers too! Already a "wannabe" runner and cyclist, the sport of triathlon was a natural next step, and that is how Emily connected with Morgan. The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement spurred Emily to become a part of the solution to dismantle racism in aquatics. Through the dedication of a small group of local swimmers, triathletes, and water lovers, the Black Swimming Initiative was born.
Dena Marshall is a lifelong swimmer and educator, a mother, adventurer, and founder. In 2016, she founded The WaterStrong Initiative to save lives and heal the planet through global programs in swimming, water safety, and water stewardship. Originally from New York state, Dena has called Portland home since 2004. waterstrong.org
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