Best Known For
In 2004, athlete Maritza Correia made history as the first African-American woman to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team. She later became the first African-American woman to break an American record.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Born in Puerto Rico in 1981, athlete Maritza Correia devoted her life to swimming. After a number of tries, in 2004 she finally became the first African-American woman to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team.
"Probably about one percent of the U.S. swimmers are black, so it gives you an incentive to go out there and show them that we can do it, too."
Born on December 23, 1981, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Maritza Correia is best known for being the first African-American woman to make the U.S. Olympic swimming team and the first black female swimmer to break an American and world record. An inspiration to many in the world of competitive sports, Correia grew up in Florida with her parents and two older brothers. Athletics runs in the family. From Guyana, her parents were educated in England, where her mother played tennis at the University of London, and her father was on the crew team.
At the suggestion of her doctor, Correia started swimming when she was seven years old. She had scoliosis, which is an abnormal curvature of the spine, and swimming helped correct the problem. Initially therapeutic, swimming became Correia's passion.
In 1990, Correia joined the Brandon Blue Wave Swim Club, following in the footsteps of her older brother Justin. Sometimes the two siblings were only African-Americans in some of their competitions. She never let the fact that she was one of the few athletes of color engaged in the sport get her down. "Probably about one percent of the U.S. swimmers are black, so it gives you an incentive to go out there and show them that we can do it, too," Correia later said.
At Tampa Bay Technical High School, Correia continued to compete, becoming one of the state's top swimmers. She won the 100-meter freestyle event at the Florida state championships four times and made the 1997 national junior swim team. In 1999, Correia became the U.S. national champion of 50-meter freestyle event for swimmers aged 18 or younger. She graduated high school that year and moved up to college-level swimming competitions while attending the University of Georgia.
After a failed attempt to make the 2000 U.S. Olympic Swim Team, Correia slipped into a depression, which lasted several months. "The one thing that got me through it was that I had the collegiate season right after the Olympics...being around my teammates and having their support along with my coaches helped me pull out of it," she told the St. Petersburg Times in 2008.
Getting back on track, Correia began a training regime consisting of swimming 14,000 meters per day, six days a week. This meant she spent about five hours in the water each day. Her hard work paid off, as she won a gold and silver medal at the 2001 World Championships for the 800-meter freestyle relay and the 400-meter freestyle relay respectively. She went on to set two records at the 2002 Women's NCAA Championships in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events. The following year, Correia brought home another gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle relay at the World Championships.
In 2004, Correia made history as the first African-American woman to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team.
profile name: Maritza Correia profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Olympic swimmers always seem to make a big splash and are the among the most-watched athletes at the Summer Games. The speed, endurance and athleticism of stars like Michael Phelps, who made history winning 16 Olympic medals, captivate sports fans, hoping to witness record-breaking achievements in the pool. Here's a group of legendary swimmers who have taken the Olympic heat to victory.
Olympic Swimmers 8 people in this group
Hispanic Athletes 27 people in this group
They've sprinted, served, batted, slam-dunked and TKO'd their way into sports history. Sprinter Jesse Owens's Olympic triumphs put Hitler to shame. Basketball star Michael Jordan taught kids that they could fly. Gymnast Gabby Douglas showed that champions can come in pint-size packages, and Tiger Woods brought the game of golf to another level. Explore biographies of famous black athletes who broke records and barriers and, ultimately, captured our imaginations.
Famous Black Athletes 147 people in this group