Florida Black Swimmer Says White Woman Called Cops on Her Family During Pool Swim

A Black Florida woman said that she and her son were victims of "swimming while Black," after a white woman called the Fort Lauderdale Police on them for talking while they were training.

The visit to the Joseph C. Carter Park pool last Sunday was the first for Florida attorney Ghenete Wright Muir and her 23-year-old son, who are both former competitive swimmers.

The mother and son normally swim with the Diversity in Aquatics Swim Club, an organization that teaches people of color and from underrepresented communities on water safety and water recreation. But Wright Muir told Newsweek she and her son had been unable to work out at their regular pool, so she encouraged him to find an Olympic-sized pool nearby.

"We were going in there on a high note," she said, adding that they have not been able to train or swim because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Ghenete Wright Muir and son
Ghenete Wright Muir and her son take part in swimming activities with the Diversity in Aquatics Swim Club. Wright Muir and her son were removed from a Fort Lauderdale pool last Sunday after a white swimmer complained to police about them talking. Ghenete Wright Muir

Wright Muir said her son went straight into the water and began swimming laps. Meanwhile she got in the water slowly and let her body adjust to the temperature before she started her laps.

As she caught up with her son, Wright Muir said she was trying to match his stroke, and asked him what he was doing.

That question supposedly set the white woman between them off and she demanded they not talk over her lane.

"I didn't see her; I didn't know there was someone between us," Wright Muir said. "I didn't expect someone to speak to me so harshly."

Wright Muir, who has been swimming since her youth, asked the lifeguard if that was a rule. The lifeguard told her it wasn't a rule.

Wright Muir said the woman approached the lifeguard and angrily demanded that something is done, and threatened the lifeguard's job.

Then, the woman demanded that staff members at the pool call the police. Wright Muir said she was confused and frightened by the woman's behavior.

"I was distraught," she said. "We'd done nothing dangerous."

Meanwhile, her son had been so focused on swimming that he hadn't witnessed much of what was happening around him.

Wright Muir said staff members closed the pool and ordered everyone out of the water before the police arrived. But the woman who'd complained about them refused.

When Fort Lauderdale police officers arrived at the pool, White Muir said she told officers she could not understand why they'd been called.

"There no danger, no violence, and no emergency, Why were the police called?" she said. "She just wanted to find a way to control us."

Bodycam footage from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department showed officers arriving and ordering everyone out from the pool, including the unidentified woman, who told officers she was "in a state of undress," and would not leave until Wright Muir and her son were gone.

Frank Sousa, interim assistant chief for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, told Newsweek that everyone was treated fairly and asked to leave, adding that Wright Muir were not singled out.

"Everyone left that park that day," he said. "The officer offered that she could even go to a different park. It's unfortunate, but from a law enforcement perspective, everyone was treated the same and everyone was treated with respect."

The bodycam footage showed the woman getting out of the pool moments after Wright Muir and her son were escorted outside the gate, and leaving with several other pool guests.

Newsweek reached out to the Joseph C. Carter Park pool for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Ken Roland, a water safety instructor at Diversity in Aquatics, said there is no room anywhere for racism, and that it saddens him that this happened at the same pool where he learned to swim so many years ago.

"It just enrages me. I am very upset when I think about this kind of racism going on right there in my town, in my pool where I swam," Roland told Newsweek. "That's holy water. Discrimination just cannot stand anymore."

Meanwhile, Wright Muir said she feels the woman's actions were racially motivated and referred to the incident as "swimming while Black."

Wright Muir said she is not planning to take any legal action against the woman or the park, but she has had conversations with city leaders.

"This was a nightmare for us," she said. "All we wanted was a nice swim."