||Lee Pitts, an internationally renowned swim instructor, is one of the most prominent swim instructors of his generation. In 1992, Lee secured his place in history by becoming the first African American to produce, direct, and instruct in the award-winning swim lesson video Waters: Beginners Swim Lessons for Adults and Children with Lee Pitts. With over 25 years of experience in the areas of swimming and water safety, He has taught thousands to swim. Lee, a former competitive swimmer, love of swimming blossomed at the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club at age 7 in Birmingham, Alabama, where his mother Johnnie Pitts enrolled him and his older brother Eugene. After perfecting his competitive swim strokes by age 10, he found himself teaching his childhood friends to swim. He went on to swim for the Macline Swim Team, and the Birmingham Parks and Recreation Swim Team. By age 17, Lee became a Red Cross certified lifeguard and swim instructor and began teaching swim lessons and coaching swim teams in Birmingham.
After completing Talladega College with a Bachelor's Degree in Business and Clark Atlanta University with a Master's Degree in Economics, he started conducting swim clinics around the United States. In 1991, he founded theLee Pitts Swim School in Fort Myers, Florida. Eight years later, the Lee Pitts Swim School Swim Team, which consisted of 80 AfricanAmerican students, obtained the Division I swim team championship in the Southwest Florida Swim League. Lee is still a highly sought after swim instructor. Every year, he conducts swimming clinics throughout the world. These clinics attract swimmers and non-swimmers of all ages.
Lee’s impeccable reputation as a swim coach secured him the position as spokesman for 20 swim tip television commercials for NBC affiliates WBBH and WFLA in Florida. He made history as the first and only African American swim instructor in the role. Additionally, he has been featured as a swimming and water safety expert on many TV shows including CBS This Morning, CNN Headline News and Fox News. Lee, also a certified scuba diver, was inducted into the Boys and Girls Club of America's National Hall of Fame in 1998. The induction celebrated his distinguished swim teaching career and community involvement with youth. Ebony Magazine called him a national and international role model for minority swim instructors. In 1998, Aetna Insurance profiled Lee in its annual national African American History Calendar for his outstanding contribution to swimming and water safety for Blacks. He is the only swim instructor inducted into the Who’s Who in African American History. In 2003, Lee was selected to Who’s Who in Aquatic Leadership in the United States. In 2004, America chose him to lead a delegation of ten American swim instructors to Haiti to teach 500 children. He is scheduled to teach in South Africa in 2006. The Hall of Fame instructor has received five NAACP Image Awards.
Lee reflected on his early days during an interview with the Tampa Tribune in 1994, “At about age 8, I knew I wanted to be a swim instructor, because that would allow me to go swimming for free and whenever I wanted, which was my simple goal at the time. But, to think that it would allow me to touch so many people and make so many friends around the world was unimaginable. Who would have thought that from my humble start, gathering soda bottles to pay for pool admittance because my mother couldn’t afford the 50 cents cost, that it would have resulted in me teaching thousands to swim and getting to swim for free!”
He rose from the low income Collegeville Public Housing Projects in Birmingham to become one of America’s most celebrated swim instructors. He has made a lifetime commitment to teaching youths, especially minority and disadvantaged children to swim. As a highly sought after instructor and speaker, he educates audiences on the effects of social and economic conditions and their contribution to the lack of swim skills in minority and low income communities. The lack of basic swimming skills results in increased drowning statistics for minorities. At its 2006 conference, the National Drown Prevention Alliance tapped him as its keynote speaker on minority drowning issues.
Lee has been featured in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Birmingham News, USA Today, Fort Myers News-Press, Tampa Tribune, Community Voice News, Essence, Ebony, Swim Magazine, Fitness Swimmer, and International Aquatic Magazine.
He is currently the Aquatics Director for the Carver Ranches Boys and Girls Club in Hollywood, Florida, a program that taught 500 inner-city children to swim in 2005. Some of his past experiences are as follows:
-Aquatics Director/ Head Swim Team Coach/ Lead Swim Instructor for the Quality Life Center
- Head Swim Instructor/Lifeguard for the STARS Swimming Complex, Fort Myers, FL
- Head Swim Instructor/ Lifeguard, City of Fort Myers
-Aquatics Director/Head Swim Team Coach/ Lead Swim Instructor, Dr. Martin Luther King Swimming Pool, Tampa
- Swim Instructor/ Lifeguard, Atlanta Parks and Recreation, Atlanta, GA
- Swim Instructor/Lifeguard/Head Swim Team Coach, City of Birmingham, AL
-Swim Instructor/ Lifeguard Fourth Avenue YMCA, Birmingham, AL
For more information on Lee Pitts, visit LeePitts.com or leepittslive.com