Young Jamaican American Swimmer Who Was Told “Black People Don’t Swim” Breaks School Record

Young Jamaican American Swimmer Breaks School Record - Nathaniel Garrick 2

Nathaniel Garrick, who will be 17 in December 2021, learned to swim at the age of three at the British Swim School. His mother, Loen Garrick, was prompted to enroll him in swimming lessons when a neighborhood child drowned trying to go after ducks in a lake. She just wanted him to be able to take care of himself in the water, but being in the water turned out to be Nathaniel’s passion and when he was nine years old he began competing at the South Florida Aquatic Club (SoFlo).

According to his mother, Nathaniel has now been competing for SoFlo for eight years. He has also been competing for his school, Archbishop McCarthy High. During that time, he has been named Most Valuable Player (MVP) in each of three consecutive years, and he has competed at the state level for the past two years. In 2020, Nathaniel competed in the 100-meter backstroke, and in 2021, he competed in the 100-meter backstroke and the 200-meter freestyle events. On November 4, 2021, he broke his high school record at the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Class 3A regional competition at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami with a time of 55:65.

Young Jamaican American Swimmer Breaks School Record - Nathaniel Garrick

On November 5, 2021, his mother took to social media to congratulate her son on being selected MVP for the third year in a row at a ceremony at Top Golf to honor the Archbishop McCarthy swim team’s athletes. She noted that an MVP is the player who contributes most to the team’s success, adding, ”This season, Nathaniel gave 100% of his time to high school swimming in every meet. He doesn’t need to be an Olympian but wants to succeed to the best of his ability, and he obtained the goals he set for himself – breaking a school record and making it to States.”

Nathaniel’s mother also praised his coaches, posting, “Coaching is a tough job. Coaches Valentina Artemeva and Anton Lobanov are passionate souls who live for the opportunity to work with like-minded swimmers intent on achieving success and enjoying involvement in a great sport. Thank you Coaches for never doubting Nate for one second. Thank you for never giving up on him or letting him give up on himself. Congratulations to my Nathaniel!!!!!”

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Loen Garrick also had some words for a classmate’s father of a classmate who told Nathaniel in 2018 at his first practice at Archbishop McCarthy High School that he would never make it to the State Championship. She also had some words for one of Nathaniel’s classmates who when it was announced in class that the swimmers need to meet the bus said, “Hey, where do you think you are going? Black people don’t swim.“

In response to these statements, she added, “Guess what??? My Nathaniel was the only qualifier from his school that went to States Championship last year AND he is going again THIS YEAR AND he BROKE the school record today at regionals in the 100 backstroke!!!!” She went on to express her pride in Nathaniel and how well he has handled his “silent battles” by relying on himself and his abilities, as well as during times when he had to humble himself. She wrote, “I am celebrating your strengths today Nate – keep doing what you are doing. I love you, son.”

Young Jamaican American Swimmer Breaks School Record - Nathaniel Garrick feature

When the Jamaicans.com team asked why he likes swimming so much, Nathaniel said the water is like his second home. ”It’s my getaway when I’m feeling low or high. I love the adrenaline, the competition and all the friendships I’ve made and maintained through it. All of the hours staring at the line and pushing myself to reach the wall faster than the day before has taught me so much about hard work and what I can endure. I am the kind of swimmer who has made swimming my life sport.”

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Stephanie Korney