Naomy Grand’Pierre: A Vision of Inclusion
There are individuals in this world that have a vision, then immediately take the necessary steps in order to make that vision a reality. If you’ve been following the already illustrious career of Naomy Grand’Pierre then it’s quite evident she’s one of those individuals. However if you’ve ever had the opportunity to speak to Naomy, you’ll soon realize that the words vision and reality seem synonymous with her. “This has been a dream of mine since I was 10” she says regarding making history for the country of Haiti as the first female Olympic swimmer from there. Nine years from when she had a vision of what she wanted, she made it real. But that goal was a step for something greater, a purpose. Naomy visualized gaining more access to swimming lessons for the Haitian children of today. To not only help create diversity to a sport that lacks it, but to help drastically cut the drowning death rates of those same children. Now two years after her Olympic debut she’s turning that into reality as well. “It makes me feel proud to be able to use the experiences in my life in a meaningful way” in reference to her work with the Swimming Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
After a lot of traveling and attending award ceremony’s Naomy is entering her senior year at the University of Chicago. She’s fresh from a historical gold medal win (The first for Haiti) at CCCAN in Aruba this July and still making the competition rounds. In the midst of everything her focus is undeterred, however it’s not a tunnel vision like focus. It seems more of a solid awareness of the path she’s on despite the weight of being in the history books. “It’s scary when I really wrap my head around it all” she says with a chuckle. “To be mentioned in the same breath with other Haitians who made history still amazes me even today”. However one of the things that gives her peace is being in the country that she calls home. “Whenever I go to Haiti, as soon as I step off the plane I feel my soul is at home”. Being the child of immigrant parents and growing up in the U.S makes it hard to feel included. “I always felt different and not fully accepted, but when I go to Haiti I feel at ease”. This connection to her homeland helps her on the competitive level. The fighting spirit of Haiti propels her during competition. “The swimming world is a tough one, there are a lot of countries with established federations so they know what they’re doing. Haiti doesn’t have a reputation for swimming, so we’re coming in with a chip on our shoulder”.
With her eyes on the 2020 Olympics in Japan her vision still remains the same. “I want the beauty of Haiti to be seen and to remove the negative stigma that is being put out there”. You can hear the passion in her voice as she says it. You can surmise it’s the same passion 10 year old Naomy had when she decided she was going to the Olympics. When the words “vision” and “reality” blend together in one’s life anything is possible. And when it comes to Naomy Grand’Pierre, nothing seems out of her grasp.
By Bernard Barnes