Why don’t black people swim?

This is a question I heard a lot during the Summer Olympics this month. While I do know that many African-Americans do swim, it is not as popular as basketball or football. Why? I believe it is mostly due to how easy it is to access what is needed. A pick-up game can happen almost anywhere, and football only requires some open space. A swimming pool is a different matter. My high school had an Olympic-size pool and swimming was a required PhysEd class for graduation. Not many schools have facilities to support this requirement.

However, not being able to swim can be dangerous. Cullen Jones (Olympic swimmer) has been promoting basic swimming skills for all children through the Make A Splash campaign (www.makeasplash.org). The site reports that Black children are 3x more likely to drown than White children,and that drowning is the 2nd leading cause of childhood accidental death. In fact,10 people drown every day in the United States. Seven out of ten African-American children and six out of ten Hispanic children do not know how to swim.

So, let’s keep our kids safer by making sure they have basic swim skills. Check out the neighborhood YMCAs and gyms. And, it’s okay ot take lessons with your children.

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