Chaya – A Film About Swimmers of Color

Cute little boy giving thumbs up at the pool

I never thought swimming was a predominantly “white” sport. But after watching Chaya – The Black Line, a film produced in 2016 that highlights great swimmers, I learned more about the sport than I have in the last few years I’ve been swimming. I was introduced to the film by Mangai HoSang, a fellow USA Triathlon Coach. I asked him how he found this movie.

“I just happened to come across The Black Line trailer one night trolling YouTube,” said Mangai HoSang. “BUT, I couldn’t find the movie and no one in any group I was in had heard of or seen it. So I started reaching out to the listed producers, director, and film company. The ‘original’ company folded and another just so happened to pick up the name, so they gave me some ideas. Last week Katie Ledecky spoke out on an IG post, and Lia Neil replied. I knew she was in the movie so I replied and tagged everyone I saw in the movie that I could find an IG account for..and the next day the director replied.”

History of Swimming

Chaya – The Black Line was made by The Indigenous Films. It talks about the history of swimming, in particular the history of Black swimmers. As Shawne Fraser said in the film, “many people believe that swimming is a white man’s sport, but in the Caribbean, it’s not a white man’s sport.”

The film is a documentary that discusses why there aren’t more Black swimmers. One of the coaches said that it’s because in the 1960s Blacks were held back and told they couldn’t swim. He responded by saying, “it was ludicrous.”

The movie suggested that 40% of drowning deaths are from people of color. Therefore, many parents have told their children that they will drown in the water.

But, one of the swimmers said if children swam at a young age, they would swim for life. “If they swim before they are nine,” one elite swimmer suggests, “they will never fear the water.”

Great Black and African American Swimmers

There are so many great Black and African American Swimmers including, Cullin Jones, who won the Gold Medal in the Bejing Olympics, and Simone Manuel who won a Gold Medal in the Rio Olympics. Or, take a look at Maritza Correia, a member of the 400-meter freestyle relay team that won Silver at the 2004 Athens Games, and Lia Neal, a Brooklyn native, who won a Bronze in a relay at the 2012 London Games and a Silver in a relay at the Rio Games. Anthony Ervin also won an Olympic Gold Medal.

Chaya – The Black Line

Chaya – The BlackLine is a wonderful film for anyone who loves swimming and triathlons. This awesome film can be viewed on Vimeo for free by clicking on this link: and using the password TBL.

I loved this film. I found it motivating and uplifting. I think everyone reading this blog should check it out. Comment below once you watch it to let me know what you think.