Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Exercise and Sport Sciences

Major Professor

Joy T. DeSensi

Committee Members

Joy T. DeSensi, Steven N. Waller, Allison Anders, Leslee A. Fisher, Quiona Stephens


A review of literature has revealed a dearth of research on leisure swimming patterns of Black females. Black youth, both male and female, have a higher rate of drowning than any other racial/ethnic group in the United States (“Water‐related injuries: Fact sheet”, 2005). Two known studies produced by (Irwin et al., 2009; 2010) examining hair as a constraint to swimming for African American youth produced conflicting results. In order to comprehensively examine hair as a constraint to African American female participation in swimming, the current study adopted a qualitative approach which allowed exploration of the cultural background and experiences of the participants enrolled in a required swimming class at Yates University (this is a pseudonym used throughout this research). The following research questions guided the study (a) How does hair influence swimming participation choices of Black females and (b) What is the self-reported degree of difficulty in the constraints negotiation process for Black females who do swim? The major finding is that hair acts as a constraint to swimming for participants of this study, but participants offered ways of negotiating this constraint to still be active participants in swimming.

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