Robert Trotman, 82, Dies; Opened Swimming Lanes to Minority Children

Robert Trotman, who for six a long time educated hundreds of minority kids within the New York City space to swim and developed a nationwide status for his work, died on March 22 at his dwelling in Massapequa, NY, on Long Island. He was 82.

His daughter, Jennifer Ann Trotman, who can be a swim coach, stated the trigger was a coronary heart assault.

Mr. Trotman, who within the Nineteen Fifties turned the primary Black swim crew captain at DeWitt Clinton High School within the Bronx, believed strongly in bringing swimming to minority youths, lots of whom had by no means been uncovered to the game within the city areas the place his Nu-Finmen swim crew has operated over time, none of these locations often known as swimming oases: the Bedford-Stuyvesant part of Brooklyn; Hempstead, on Long Island; and Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey. The crew is now based mostly in Cambria Heights, Queens.

“There’s by no means been an awesome Black aggressive swimmer, not as a result of they cannot swim however as a result of they do not have easy accessibility to swimming pools, camps, trainers,” Mr. Trotman informed The New York Times in 1973, greater than a dozen years after he and a buddy based Finmen. (He spoke properly earlier than Anthony Nesty, representing Suriname, turned the primary Black swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal, on the 1988 Summer Games, and earlier than Simone Manuel of the United States turned the primary Black feminine swimmer to win a person gold medal, on the 2016 Summer Olympics.)

“Basically,” he stated, “it is a sport for the rich. Every child performs basketball, however a swimmer wants devotion and self-denial.”

In a cellphone interview, his daughter stated: “He wished to eliminate the parable that Black individuals cannot swim. He grew up in swimming not seeing somebody who seemed like him. He felt it was essential to see an instance of what you might be.”

Mr. Trotman, who was a New York City subway motorman for 20 years, additionally coached a swim crew within the village of Hempstead and was the assistant coach beneath his daughter at York College in Jamaica, Queens, from 2002 to 2016.

One of their swimmers, Paulana Lamonier, stated by cellphone: “He was humorous, he was a sharpshooter, and by no means held again when it got here to supplying you with suggestions and releasing your potential.”

After her freshman 12 months at York, Ms. Lamonier started to coach at Nu-Finmen; In 2019, she began Black People Will Swim, a program that encourages Black and brown individuals to overcome their worry of swimming. She can be the co-head coach of York’s swim crew.

“His instance undoubtedly impressed me to coach,” Ms. Lamonier stated of Mr. Trotman.

Robert Austin Trotman was born on Oct. 15, 1940, in Manhattan. His father, Gladstone, was a garments presser. His mom, Irma (Willoughby) Trotman, was a homemaker.

Robert was frightened of the ocean the primary time he encountered it, when he was 8. But he quickly realized to swim at a membership within the Bronx.

“I had a coach who had an actual mosaic crew: Hispanics and Blacks, Polish and Italians,” Mr. Trotman informed Newsday in 2003. But, he added, he observed that the majority of his opponents at swim meets have been white.

Later, as well as to swimming for his highschool crew, he competed with an Amateur Athletic Union crew and have become a lifeguard.

He and his buddy Charles Simmons began the Finmen in 1959 on the St. John’s Recreation Center in Brooklyn. (It modified its title over time, to Trot’s Finmen within the Eighties and Nu-Finmen within the early Nineteen Nineties.) Serving within the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC, from 1962 to 1964, he taught officers’ wives and youngsters. how to swim.

After his discharge, Mr. Trotman attended Queens College for 2 years. With Nu-Finmen, he educated Junior Olympic champions, all-state swimmers, NCAA All-Americans and Nassau County, NY, champions to compete in swim meets within the New York space and elsewhere on the East Coast.

In 1981, he began the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Swim Classic, a multicultural occasion that yearly attracts tons of of swimmers from the United States and the Caribbean to Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, on Long Island.

In 2014, he acquired the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award of USA Swimming, the nationwide governing physique of the game, for supporting and introducing swimming to underrepresented teams.

“I began with USA Swimming 50 years in the past after they requested me to come work with minority children,” Mr. Trotman is quoted as saying on the group’s web site. “My factor has at all times been that I provides you with what you want, and you’re employed for what you need.”

One of his youngest swimmers, Karim Chesimard, was introduced to Mr. Trotman at 3, in 1994, to assist him overcome his worry of the water.

“Coach took him screaming and attempting to maintain on to me for pricey life, simply dragged him away,” Karim’s father, Andre Chesimard, informed The Times in 1998. “Within an hour, Karim was within the water like nothing had occurred, and two days later he was swimming laps throughout the pool utilizing a flat board.”

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