When Manny Banks came to USA Swimming five years ago he had no experience with aquatics.
“The only thing I knew about
swimming was the Olympics,” the 35-year-old says.
What he did have was experience as a marketing professional. Today,
as the organization’s diversity membership specialist, he is
using that background to help promote swimming and water safety
among minority communities.
Banks started working in sports more than a decade ago and has held
various marketing positions for organizations such as the Memphis
Grizzlies NBA basketball team, Bowling Green State University and
the Autozone Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis, Tenn.
He holds an M.S. in sports and leisure commerce from the University
of Memphis (Tennessee) and received his undergraduate degree in
broadcast journalism from Louisiana State University in 1999.
It was in college that he first learned to swim, and that gives him
a unique perspective among his colleagues.
“I see it differently than most people involved in swimming
because I didn't grow up as a swimmer,” he says.
When he first joined USA Swimming, Banks was consumer marketing
director. Part of his job was to develop new relationships with
marketing and promotional partners. He became diversity membership
specialist two years ago and now he is showing local clubs how to
develop those relationships on their own, in an effort to reach out
to minority communities.
“I take the experience I’ve gained in marketing and
community relations and bring that knowledge to clubs so they can
increase diversity on the local level,” Banks says.
Raised in a military family, he grew up overseas, which taught him
that while cultural differences must be respected and understood,
people can be united by common bonds.
That’s a perspective he will carry with him as he undertakes
new goals and initiatives to continue USA Swimming’s efforts
to reduce the documented disparities in drowning rates among white
individuals and minorities.
“I’ve truly found what I want to do in life,”
Banks says. “In 10 years, I’d say I’m still
[going to be] at USA Swimming. What we do impacts people on so many