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Ashleigh Johnson: Leading the Way in Water Polo and Inspiring Black Youth

Ashleigh Johnson

Ashleigh Johnson, an Olympic water polo star, is not only excelling in her sport but also uplifting black youth through her achievements and influence.

Johnson made history in 2016 as the first Black athlete to join the United States Olympic water polo team, and she continues to inspire young people with her journey.

Johnson’s story began with a simple desire to keep her family safe around water, which sparked her love for swimming and eventually led her to discover water polo.

Unlike her siblings, she thrived as a goalkeeper, a skill she honed at Princeton University, where she became the all-time saves leader and helped her teams achieve 100 wins.

Her exceptional talent earned her a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, where she won gold. She repeated the victory four years later in Tokyo, solidifying her status as one of the world’s top water polo goalkeepers.

Now, as she prepares for the Paris Olympic Games, Johnson’s focus extends beyond her athletic achievements.

In a conversation with NBC News, Johnson emphasized her desire to inspire Black and brown youth to explore swimming and water polo.

“As a Black woman of Caribbean descent in this sport, I definitely feel a special obligation to be a light for little Black and brown girls — and boys — who may be interested in swimming and water polo.

That’s really special and is a priority for me,” she said.

Johnson’s mother, Donna Johnson, shares her daughter’s sentiment, expressing her pride not just in Ashleigh’s medals but in the person she has become.

With her impressive career and commitment to uplifting others, Ashleigh Johnson is making significant waves both in the pool and in the lives of young people.



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