Maritza Correia (born December 23, 1981), also known by her married name Maritza McClendon, is an 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.
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. 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.
Correia attended Tampa Bay Technical High School and joined the school's swimming team. In 1999, she became the U.S. National Champion in the 50m freestyle in the 18 and under category. She was also a six time Florida High School State Champion in the 5 different events. Correia was a member of the 1997 USA National Junior Team that competed in Sweden and of the 1999 USA Short Course World Championship Team which competed in Hong Kong.
In 1999, Correia joined the University of Georgia Lady Bulldogs swimming and diving team. She aided the team when they won their title in the 400m freestyle relay. She earned a share of the SEC Commissioner's Trophy for high point honors. First and only swimmer in SEC 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.
Correia hoped to participate at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. She went to the Olympic Trials, but she missed making the team.
In 2001, Correia won a gold medal in the 800m freestyle and two bronze medals in the medley and 400m freestyle relay as a member of the U.S. Team at the 2001 World Championship celebrated in Japan.
In 2002, Correia became the national champion in both the 50y and 100y freestyle and was a member of two winning relay teams at the NCAA Championships celebrated in Austin, Texas. She set the NCAA, American and U.S. Open records with a time of 21.69 in the 50 y freestyle, surpassing Amy Van Dyken's mark of 21.77 set in 1994. She earned seven All-American certificates and she was awarded the Commissioner's Cup as the high point scorer in the SEC Championships.
In 2003, Correia earned a gold medal swimming on prelim 400 m free relay at the World Championships. In 2004, she won a gold medal swimming prelims at the 400 m free relay at the Short Course World Championships and earned an Olympic silver medal swimming prelims of the 400m free relay at the 2004 Olympic Games celebrated in Athens, Greece.