POOL: A Social History of
Segregation is opening soon!

Visit soon at the Fairmount Water Works


by Victoria Prizzia, Pool Creator

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POOL weaves together history, site-specific artwork, storytelling, scholarship and place-based learning.

The exhibit installations build on one another to illuminate a history of segregated swimming in America, and its connection to present-day drowning issues affecting Black communities.

The day before it was supposed to officially open, “POOL: A Social History of Segregation” was submerged in the waters of Hurricane Ida.

It is a heartbreaking delay to opening but POOL will rise again. More details to come. For now, please immerse yourself in the contents of this website. We look forward to seeing you in this magnificent space soon.
To learn more about the flood visit:

Featured Voices

Through an inspiring collective of artists, swimming champions, aquatic activists, researchers and scholars, POOL invites visitors to challenge personal assumptions about the act of swimming together.

Anthony Patterson, Sr.

President, Nile Swim Club in Yeadon, PA, the oldest Black-owned swim club in the U.S.

Bruce Wigo

Swimmer, historian, writer, former CEO of U.S.A. Water Polo, and former CEO of The International Swimming Hall of Fame

Coach Malachi and Olivia Cunningham

Lifelong educators, founders and leaders of the former Philadelphia Tigershark Swim Club

Cullen Jones

The first African-American to hold a world record in swimming

Dr. Angela Beale-Tawfeeq

Director of Education and Research for Diversity in Aquatics and a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Aquatic Council

Dr. Jeff Wiltse

Historian and author of Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America

Dr. Kevin Dawson

Historian and author of Undercurrents of Power: Aquatic Culture in the African Diaspora

Dr. Miriam Lynch

A swimmer, coach and the Executive Director of Diversity in Aquatics

Jim Ellis

Famed Philadelphia Swim Coach, founder of PDR Swim Club and the subject of the feature film Pride starring Terrence Howard

Kevin Colquitt

Swimmer, historian and writer

Maritza Correia McClendon

The first Puerto Rican of African descent to be a member of the U.S. Olympic swimming team

Naji Ali

Long-distance swimmer and creator of Crossing the Lane Lines, a podcast series dedicated to giving voice to the Black swim community

Rhonda Harper

Founder of Black Girls Surf

Sabir Muhammad

The first African-American to win a medal at a major international swimming competition

Simone Manuel

The first female Black swimmer in Olympic history to win an individual gold medal in swimming (2016)

Drowning is the 5th leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages in the United States, and the 2nd leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

Explore the Exhibition

An immersive blend of interactive media, site-specific artworks, arresting graphics, and powerful stories bring the history of segregated swimming and its reverberations to life in POOL.

A History of Segregation: Graphic Timeline and Slideshow

An immersive graphic timeline takes the viewer on a journey from the 1800s to today.

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POOL Mural

Calo Rosa was born in San Salvador from a family of artists working in diverse media including Brazilian percussion, graphic design, oil painting, and cake-making.

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Featured Video

In Pennsylvania, Black children have a 50% higher rate of accidental drowning than white children - 1.2 deaths per 100,000 population for Blacks vs. 0.8 deaths per 100,000 for whites. This disparity has remained unchanged for more than 20 years.

"This medal is not just for me. It's for some of the African Americans that came before me and have been inspirations and mentors to me. I hope that I can be an inspiration for others."

Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming


One element of POOL is a thoughtfully curated, professionally printed publication that captures the voices and work of a diverse assembly of Black swimming champions, aquatic activists, researchers and scholars. Explore and download their stories here.

Simone Manuel: A Letter to My Younger Self

Hey mom, where are all the people who look like me? I was 12 years old. And for the first time in my young life, I had begun to realize I was different.

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White boys are 3.5 times more likely to drown than white girls, while Black boys are 4.5 times more likely to drown than Black girls.

Source for stats: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Cause of Death Statistics Database, 1999-2019 & CDC Prevention Water Safety Facts