The Kensley Grace Foundation Welcomes Maritza McClendon

Maritza McClendon is a 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist and the first African American woman to make a US Olympic Swim team and medal. At the age of 7 she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and her doctor recommended swimming as a medical remedy. Swimming under Olympic Coach Peter Banks, in Brandon, Florida she emerged as one of the top recruits in the country out of High School. Earning a full scholarship to the University of Georgia (BA in Sociology, 2005) under Olympic Coach Jack Bauerle, she ended her college career as a 27-time All American, 11 NCAA titles, the first African American female to break an individual American record (2002), and to break a World Record (2000) in swimming. By the time Maritza’s competitive swimming career ended, she had earned 12 international medals. 

While no longer swimming competitively, Maritza still actively engages communities nationwide to inspire people to lead a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially swimming. Additionally, she is a passionate advocate for the importance of water safety among minorities of all ages and travels the country frequently to speak about this life saving skill. She candidly shares her life lessons without sparing any details in hopes to inspire others to overcome hesitation, fear, and disappointment. Her motto is “Turn any negative situation into something positive and never give up.” 

Maritza is a wife and a mom of two young children located in Atlanta, GA and works at Carter’s Inc as Sr. Brand Marketing Manager.

Contact Information:


Instagram: ritzyswims

Twitter: ritzyswims04

Career Highlights:

• 2004 Olympic silver medalist in 400m FR

• First African American female swimmer to make US Olympic team and win a medal
• First African American to break a World record in swimming
• First African American Female to break individual American records
• Three-Time World Champion

• 11-Time NCAA Champion

• 27- Time NCAA All American

• Team USA Team Captain, 2003, 2005, 2007

• Most Valuable Student-Athlete at University of Georgia, 2003
• Former American record holder in 50y freestyle and 100y freestyle
• Two-Time Pan American Games Gold Medalist 
• Four-Time gold medalist at 2005 World University Games

• USA Swimming Diversity and Inclusion Award, 2014

• University of Georgia Circle of Honor Inductee, 2015

• Advisory Board for Blueprint for Success, 2015

• Advisory Board for Diversity in Aquatics, 2015

• Spokesperson for USA Swimming Program, Swim 1922

• Kensley Grace Foundation, Board Member, 2019

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