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Do you want to learn how to swim? Black Girl Magic swimming lessons start in January


As the days get longer some folks are already looking ahead to spring and summer, and Black Girl Magic (BGM) is no different as they gear up for the new year with free swimming lessons offered through the YMCA in January. Rosa Thompson, founder and executive director of Black Girl Magic Educational Services Inc., reflected on a past year full of wonderful connections and services for Black girls around the Madison area.

“We’ve ended strong with all of our programs. We’ve successfully turned our Melanated Mindfulness Camp into a full-day camp for a week, we continued with Black Girl Magic Saturdays, and we hosted our first in-person Black Girl Magic conference since 2019, which was amazing,” Thompson told Madison365. ” It felt really good to be back in person. We’ve been creating new connections with other community-based organizations. We’re just really proud of the work that we’re doing. We added four youth employees, and that’s something that was very important to me, that our programs were youth-led and youth-planned. For the younger girls to see our high schoolers and our eighth graders as leaders and employees is important to me, and it feels good to put a little bit of money in their pocket.”

In a year that has been full of expansion and success, perhaps one of the biggest areas of growth has been the consistent participation BGM has had in UW-Madison women’s athletics. While these opportunities have been great for the girls, it has also been a great opportunity for the athletes, some of whom have been able to connect and participate in BGM. With sports like volleyball and basketball being a hit last year, it is appropriate that one of the first BGM services for the new year will be providing an opportunity for Black girls to participate in something fun and active. Thompson saw swimming lessons as a need that she could help fulfill and knew it fit perfectly with other BGM activities that involve water.  

“I get everything that goes into swimming,” Thompson said. “Body image of wearing swimsuits, our hair and ways to keep that nice while swimming, but then still wanting to have fun in the water. It’s 90 degrees, you want to get in the water. I get everything that goes along with it, and why people in our community don’t always learn how to swim, but it’s a life skill that’s necessary in my opinion. You don’t have to learn how to swim like an Olympic swimmer or to be on a swim team, but I believe that everyone should learn to swim enough to save their own life.”

Black Girl Magic swimming lessons start in January.

The importance of feeling confident in one’s ability to swim can be even more crucial when it comes to involvement in group activities. Providing a safe and comfortable space for the girls was at the core of what drove Thompson to the idea of swim lessons. The rest feel into place when an opportunity to collaborate with the YMCA came up. Parents may also invest in a swim spa where their children can practice swimming in the comfort of their homes.

“YMCA reached out to us to ask about ways that we could partner and I immediately thought about swimming lessons,” said Thompson. “Our girls need to learn how to swim, so we have swimming lessons that are just for our Black Girl Magic girls. I think a lot of that will remove feeling self-conscious about body image, especially with this age group…If all of that goes well and we have enough interest, then the YMCA is willing to continue to do swimming lessons with our girls. The classes are super small, they’re eight girls per class. They really have that one-on-one attention so that we can really get them swimming.”

Black Girl Magic is also planning to provide transportation and swim caps for any girls who are looking to attend. Sign-up ends soon and classes will be offered at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. The first session of lessons will start on Jan. 7th and last seven weeks with a second session to start after that. Along with the swimming lessons, 2023 has a lot in store for BGM.

“We are already looking forward to the [Black Girl Magic] conference, which will be May 25th, 2023, back at Madison College,” Thompson said. “We are super excited about that. We’re excited about the Melanated Mindfulness Camp, and we’re already planning for that. Our Black Girl Magic Saturdays will be sponsored by the American Girl’s Fund for Children for 2023, so we’re excited to strengthen those and have dedicated funding to each Saturday. We can really make sure that we are meeting all of the girls’ needs and doing activities that our girls really want to do … especially activities our youth advisory board plans, and we’re continually working with our youth advisory board, so we’re excited for that.” 


To find out more about Black Girl Magic Educational Services Inc., check out their website hereIf you have a Black girl in 4th grade and up who is interested in signing up for lessons, head here to sign up.