A University of Chicago swimmer is set to become the first female swimmer in Haiti’s Olympic history, according to a Shannon Ryan story in the Chicago Tribune.
Naomy Grand’Pierre, a junior for the Maroons, began swimming with far less competitive goals than the Olympics; Her mother had three relatives who died in drowning accidents, and wanted to help her children avoid that fate.
One of five children both to Haitian parents, the Atlanta-raised Grand’Pierre tried to achieve a qualifying time through two competitions but didn’t reach her goal. Fortunately, she booked her trip to Rio through the IOC’s universality rule. It’s in place to help a wider variety of nations participate in the Olympics.
With Grand’Pierre’s mother helping the Haitian Olympic Federation in starting a swim team, perhaps its fitting that Naomy is its first female swimmer. And she hopes that helps the sport catch on in Haiti.
“It’s been super awesome,” Grand’Pierre said. “I was going through a couple comments (and saw), ‘My son is swimming and he is Haitian-American and he thought he was the only one.’ It’s cool to see there are other athletes, not just swimmers, of Haitian descent, and I guess they’re encouraged to see people stepping up and representing Haiti. There’s been a lot of positive feedback.”
Grand’Pierre will compete in the 50M freestyle and at the very least will inspire Haiti’s number of swimmers to grow from her estimation of “1 percent”.