I have been a swimmer for 15 years.  I have swam for over 10 separate teams, all the way up to the national level.  I have raced thousands upon thousands of individuals.  However, in all my time in the water, there seems to be one subtle detail that for most, flies under the radar: There are very few black people.   I have heard many theories as to why this may be.  People sayBlog1 it’s because of the anatomical difference in muscle density and ratio of fast- to slow-twitch muscle cells that causes black people to only have quick bursts of energy as opposed to a long steady flow of it.  An article on race and physics by Amren news claims the reason is “because blacks have such dense bones, they are less buoyant and less likely to be swimming champions.”   Many scientist claim it’s because blacks have quicker reaction speeds than Caucasians and therefore excel at other sports that require quick reactions unlike swimming.  All of these explanations may be true; however, it does not take away from the obvious fact that white athletes severely outnumber black in the pool.

Swimming is not the only sport that is segregated like this.  Sports such as golf, tennis, track, basketball and football are also very racially oriented.  These days, it’s nearly impossible to find a sport that isn’t racially segregated in some way.  There are many different theories as to why things may be this way.  One of them being that blacks high level of testosterone.  In the Ameren article    (http://www.amren.com/news/2008/02/race_and_physic_1/ ) that was mentioned earlier, it is stated that “Studies have repeatedly found that black men have more of the male hormone testosterone in their blood than whites do. Testosterone is directly related to phyBlog2sical and sexual aggressiveness, but it also combines significantly with intelligence.”  The testosterone allows black males to build more muscle faster and more efficiently than white males.  Which brings me to my next point, the type of muscle built.
There are two types of muscle cells, fast-twitch and slow-twitch.  Fast-twitch muscle cells are used for power movements such as jumping or sprinting while slow-twitch muscle is used for endurance purposes. According to http://run-down.com/guests/je_black_athletes_p2.php in a study of fast-twitch muscle cells in Africans and Caucasians, researchers found, “The West Africans, by a ratio of approximately two to one, had more of the larger fast-twitch fibers. The researchers concluded that the force generating capacity of type-II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers at high velocity, the speed and tempo of movements, and the capacity of an individual to adapt to exercise training are all genetically influenced.”  Another possible reason why blacks excel at some sports and whites excel at others is due to bone density.  Studies show that Caucasian bone is only about 87.5% as dense as African American bone.  This causes blacks to be more agile and gives them the stability needed to run faster and cut harder.  However, this makes them more much less buoyant which gives Caucasians the advantage in aquatic sports such as swimming.  These facts are just the beginning of all the anatomical differences between blacks and whites that cause the segregation of certain sports.

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I will admit, however, there are some exceptions to this ideology.  One example is the Olympic 50 meter freestyler silver medalist, Cullen Jones.  Jones is an African American born in the Bronx.  He is the current American record holder in the 50 meter freestyle and has been on multiple American gold medal winning relays.  Jones may be one of the few black swimmers in the world, but he doesn’t necessarily redefine the stereotype.  It is a well-known fact in the swimming world that most black swimmers are sprinters because of the large amount of muscle mass required for those events.  In 2012, the US Olympic swim team did not have a single black swimmer in an event longer than 200 meters.  Even this follows all the facts stated above in that blacks do have faster reactions and more efficient bodies for sprinting allowing them to overpower the buoyancy issue for a short period of time.

Many people see these facts as disturbing and wrong.  However, the way I see it, it’s simply an effect of evolution and natural selection.  Certain sports are more populated with African American athletes simply because they are built more efficiently for it.  Some sports are more populated with Caucasian athlete for the same reason.  The purpose of sports is to test the ability of an athlete to see who is better.  Some races are built more efficiently than others for certain things, it’s a simple fact of life.  I believe that athletes should not be judged by the color of their skin.  However, I do believe that the color of an athlete’s skin does have the potential to mean the difference in ability.

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