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Meet Maritza 

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Maritza McClendon is a 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist. She is the 1st African American woman to make a US Olympic Swim team. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she began swimming at the age of 7 after being diagnosed with severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine). What began as a medical remedy turned into a historic career.


She swam for Olympic Coach Peter Banks, in Brandon, Florida and emerged as one of the top High School recruits in the country. She earned a full scholarship to the University of Georgia to swim for Olympic Coach Jack Bauerle.  


She had an impressive college career as a 27-time All American, 11 NCAA titles, the 1st African American to break an individual American record (2002), and to break a World record (2000) in swimming.

Did you know? Maritza is the only swimmer, male or female, to ever win conference championships in all freestyle events, from the 50yd free to the 1,650yd free. 


By the time Maritza’s competitive swimming career ended, she earned 12 international medals. She's broken down many barriers and paved the way for so many who look just like her. 


Based in Atlanta, GA. Maritza is a wife, a mom of two young children, works full time, and travels the country sharing her inspiring story and advocating for water safety among minority communities.


Career Highlights + Community Involvement

• 2004 Olympic silver medalist in 400m FR

• 1st African American female swimmer to make US Olympic team  
• 1st African American to break a World record in swimming
• 1st African American Female to break individual American records
• 3-time World Champion

• 11-time NCAA Champion

• 27- time NCAA All American

• Team USA Team Captain, 2003, 2005, 2007

• Most Valuable Student-Athlete at University of Georgia, 2003
• Former American record holder in 50y freestyle and 100y freestyle
• Two-Time Pan American Games Gold Medalist 
• Four-Time gold medalist at 2005 World University Games

• USA Swimming Diversity and Inclusion Award, 2014

• University of Georgia Circle of Honor, 2015

• Diversity in Aquatics, Board of Directors 2015

• Spokesperson for USA Swimming Program, Swim 1922

• USA Swimming's DEI Council, Chair, 2020

• Team BLAC (Black Leadership in Aquatics Coalition), Chair, 2020

• Kensley Grace Foundation, Board Member, 2019

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