Maritza Correia

Maritza Correia (born December 23, 1981), also known by her married name Maritza McClendon, is a former Olympic swimmer from the United States. When she qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in 2004, she became the first Puerto Rican of African descent to be a member of the U.S. Olympic swimming team. She also became the first black American swimmer to set an American and world swimming record.[2]

Maritza Correia
Correia in April 2016
Personal information
National team United States
Born (1981-12-23) December 23, 1981
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight134 lb (61 kg)
ClubBrandon Blue Wave
College teamUniversity of Georgia

Early years

Correia was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her parents, Vincent and Anne, had moved there from Guyana. In 1988, when Correia was seven years old, she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis.[3] Her doctor recommended that she take swimming classes and use swimming as a treatment for her condition. In 1990, her family moved and settled in Tampa, Florida.[4]

Correia attended Tampa Bay Technical High School and joined the school's swimming team. In 1999, she became the 50-meter freestyle U.S. national champion in the 18-and-under category.[5] She was also a six-time Florida high school state champion in five different events. Correia was a member of the 1997 USA national junior team that competed in Sweden and the 1999 USA Short Course World Championships team that competed in Hong Kong.[3]

In 1999, Correia joined the University of Georgia Lady Bulldogs swimming and diving team.[6] She aided the team when they won their title in the 400 m freestyle relay. She earned a share of the SEC Commissioner's Trophy for high-point honors. Correia was the first swimmer in Southeastern Conference history to win an SEC title in all freestyle events. During her college career she was a 27-time All-American, and 11-time NCAA champion.[5]

National Champion, Olympics, Universiade

Correia hoped to participate at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. She competed at the Olympic Trials, but she failed to make the team.[5]

In 2001, Correia won a gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle and two bronze medals in the medley and 400-meter freestyle relay as a member of the U.S. team at the 2001 World Championships in Japan.[5]

In 2002, Correia became the national champion in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle and was a member of two winning relay teams at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas. She set the NCAA, American, and U.S. Open records with a time of 21.69 in the 50-yard freestyle, surpassing Amy Van Dyken's mark of 21.77 set in 1994. She earned seven All-American certificates and was awarded the Commissioner's Cup as the high point scorer in the SEC Championships.[5]

In 2003, Correia earned a gold medal swimming in a preliminary heat of the 4 × 100-meter freestyle relay at the World Championships. In 2004, she won a gold medal swimming the prelims of the 4 × 100-meter freestyle relay at the Short Course World Championships and earned an Olympic silver medal swimming the prelims of the 4 × 100-meter freestyle relay at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Correia attended the University of Georgia as a sociology major and graduated in 2005. In 2005, she won three gold medals at the 2005 Summer Universiade in Izmir, Turkey.[6]

After swimming

In March 2010, Maritza married Chad McClendon, and on January 1, 2012, their son Kason was born. On September 25, 2013, the family added a daughter, Sanaya Anne.[7][8]

McClendon is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.


  • 2004 Olympic silver medalist: 4 × 100 freestyle relay
  • First African American female to make the U.S. Olympic swim team
  • 2000 NCAA champion: 200-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle relay, 400-meter medley relay
  • 2001 NCAA champion: 800-yard freestyle relay
  • 2002 NCAA champion: 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle relay, 400-yard freestyle relay
  • 2003 NCAA champion: 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle
  • 2000-03 27-time All-American
  • World record-holder in the 400-yard medley relay SCM at 2000 NCAA Championships
  • American, NCAA, U.S. Open record holder: 50-yard freestyle (21.69) in 2002
  • American, NCAA, U.S. Open record Holder: 200-yard freestyle relay (1:28.74) in 2002
  • American, NCAA, U.S. Open record holder: 400-yard freestyle relay (3:13.71) in 2002
  • 2001, 2003 two-time world champion in 4 × 100 m freestyle relay
  • 2005 World University Games gold medalist: 50-meter freestyle, 4 × 100-meter freestyle relay, 4 × 100-meter medley relay, 4 × 200-meter freestyle relay
  • 2006 World Championships silver medalist: 100-meter freestyle
  • 2007 Pan American Games champion: 4 × 100-meter freestyle relay, 4 × 100-meter medley relay

See also


  1. "Pan American Games Rio 2007 Results". Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
  2. "Maritza Correia – first African-American Olympic swimmer | PRETTY TOUGH™". November 24, 2007. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  3. BLACK HISTORY MONTH: NATIONAL TEAM PIONEERS Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  4. Real Health
  5. "Olympic medalist knows about physical challenges – Tampa Bay Times". Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  6. NABJ Sports Task Force
  7. 20 Question Tuesday: Maritza Correia McClendon Archived September 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, January 31, 2012.
  8. An Interview with Maritza McClendon Archived September 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, February 22, 2012.
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