Tayler Prince-Fraser Presents 'Deep Is Water'

by SHOWstudio on 7 October 2022

Nike and SHOWstudio contributor - filmmaker Tayler Prince-Fraser - have joined forces for an exhibition hoping to change the cultural narrative when it comes to backness in swimming.

Nike and SHOWstudio contributor - filmmaker Tayler Prince-Fraser - have joined forces for an exhibition hoping to change the cultural narrative when it comes to backness in swimming.

For me, culturally, swimming was not something my family embraced. I was encouraged to run, jump, skip, but not swim. - Tayler Prince-Fraser

Swimming is a funny one. As a sport, it's often pushed upon kids to learn from a young age, and if you grew up in the UK, you'd most likely have faint memories of taking class trips to the local swimming pool once a week when you reached a certain age. However, what many people don't acknowledge is that these lessons, even if not overtly, are centred around whiteness; or at least that's what figures released by Sport England show. In England, research has proven that a staggering 95 per cent of black adults and 80 per cent of black children do not swim. Although one could previously pass this off as 'black people don't like swimming', that is evidently not the case and, quite frankly, a cop-out excuse. A report from Swim England has shown a pent-up demand for swimming from Black people in the country, which doesn't mirror their representation in campaigns around the sport. The solution, however simple it may seem, still isn't addressed by mainstream media. To engage young black boys in swimming, we must show them swimming; too often, billboards are adorned with the unobtainable and the unrelatable.

Nike Swim x Tayler Prince-Fraser

As a longtime advocate in supporting those who see themselves as outcasts, particularly in a sport-like setting, Nike have teamed up with SHOWstudio contributor Tayler Prince-Fraser to raise awareness of this issue, setting out to create a story that puts young black men at the forefront. However, don't be fooled. This is not a 'Black swimming campaign' and, as the label so rightly said in a press release, 'to label it that would defeat the purpose of the project, which is to normalise a more diverse representation of swimmers'.

Through a series of stills that have fed into a wider exhibition that was launched with a panel discussion on the topic on Thursday, 6 October, Nike Swim and Prince-Fraser have not only touched upon community aspects but have injected a sense of power within their imagery. Familiarity and happiness also stand at the forefront of the campaign, which will hopefully ripple across black culture, distinctly encouraging those who have the desire to swim. Wanting to know more about the cause and get to the bottom of why this campaign isn't only important to the wider community but to Prince-Fraser personally, SHOWstudio's editorial assistant Christina Donoghue spoke to the filmmaker about his own desires within the monumental campaign.

Nike Swim x Tayler Prince-Fraser

Christina Donoghue: You talk about representation in adverts and campaigns being a problem, but surely such a statistic can't rely on this statement alone. What other factors do you think have a part to play?

Tayler Prince-Fraser: No, you're quite right. Representation alone will not be enough to address the lack of Black swimmers in the UK. However, I do believe that it is a fundamental step in addressing the issue. Once we have built an interest and belief within the community that swimming is a space for them to occupy, I believe we can then address some of the other barriers to entry, such as lack of infrastructure and financial costs.

CD: Of all sports brands, why have you decided to team up with Nike swim?

TPF: The initial message we received from them off the back of Fear of the water was one that was of genuine admiration and interest in wanting to further explore the themes behind the film. It felt, and still feels, very organic and meaningful.

CD: What's your personal take on swimming? You said your family never encouraged it as a sport… Why do you think that is?

TPF: It's not that my parents never encouraged me to swim, because they did so from a very young age. The phrase we opened the film with 'I was always encouraged to run, jump and skip, but never swim' was not necessarily reflective of my personal experience, but rather the experiences of those around me; immediate family, close friends etc. I think it's an issue that has become entrenched within the community - it's almost as if we have begun to believe the myths and stereotypes.

What do you hope this campaign and panel discussion encourages?

I think people take away two things. Firstly, this is a group of young men that belong in the water. They're confident, strong, and most importantly, happy. Secondly, working with commercial partners doesn't need to look 'commercial'. It can be artistic; it can convey emotion and feeling.

Nike Swim x Tayler Prince-Fraser


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