On the cinder-block wall in the manager's office of the Adamsville Natatorium are photos of two heroes: Martin Luther King Jr. and Sabir Muhammad.
Here, at this pool in a predominantly black neighborhood of southwest Atlanta, it's easy to see why Muhammad, 36, looms large.
He was the first black swimmer to set an American record. He broke U.S. short-course records in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and finished his swimming career with seven Pac-10 championships titles, 25 All-American honors and three NCAA, U.S. Open and American records.
But perhaps more importantly, Muhammad helped shatter a myth that black people couldn't swim.
The schoolhouse clock hanging next to the image of a Speedo-clad Muhammad in Adamsville says 6:45 p.m., and about two dozen black children have come here after a long day of school.
Some are with the city of Atlanta's Dolphins swim team, for whom Muhammad once swam and made his mark in the sport.
Muhammad opened his own swim school, but he occasionally drops by Adamsville to see his old coach, Tommy Jackson, and stand as inspiration for a new generation.
A few of the students have traveled for more than an hour on clogged rush-hour highways. They will get home just in time for dinner, homework and bed.
As they swim lap after lap, their mothers wait for them on metal bleachers for two hours, maybe more. They do this three times a week.
The air is heavy, damp and chlorine-laden. Jackson, 66, orders 335 laps for the older swimmers in the 50-yard pool.
Star swimmer Derek Cox, 15, shows up late. With no time to waste, Jackson makes sure he gets in the water fast.
"If you're not breathing hard, you need to swim a little harder," Jackson yells.
The former schoolteacher has been coaching inner-city kids to swim for as long as he can remember. He was a mentor for Muhammad, who, as a boy, ate dinner at Jackson's house and even slept there some nights.
Swimming, Jackson tells his students, is a life skill. If you fall in the water, you'll drown, he says. If you don't learn discipline, you'll die in other ways.
Fear of the water
Muhammad might have been like so many black kids in America who don't know how to swim.
The statistics are dire: 70% of African-American children cannot swim, compared with 42% of white children, according to USA Swimming. Black kids in America drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their white peers.
It's an issue that haunts Wanda Butts, one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012. Butts' 16-year-old son drowned six years ago while rafting on a lake with friends. He couldn't swim.
In memory of her son, Butts started the Josh Project, which provides low-cost swimming lessons for more than 1,000 children --- most of them minorities --- in Toledo, Ohio.
"It did not occur to me that my son would drown because he didn't know water safety," she says. "Josh was never taught the basic life skill of learning how to swim."
The same tragedy almost befell Muhammad's parents.
When he was 3, Muhammad ran into a river at a family reunion and would surely have drowned. But his father, who learned to swim in the ponds around his hometown of Winnfield, Louisiana, dived in and saved his son's life.
No one else there that day knew how to swim.
Swimming is a lot like reading in that it's so much easier to learn as a child. Yet, for a variety of reasons, getting in the water is not a priority for many black families in America.
For many years, segregation kept black people out of public pools and beaches. Later, sham studies claimed African-Americans were less buoyant and, therefore, more disadvantaged in the water than whites.