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Swim or die: The battle to save black kids from drowning

Swim or die: The battle to save black kids from drowning
Harriette Cole, The Grio, July 15, 2010

I’m one of the lucky ones. When I was 4-years-old my father had an in-ground pool built in the backyard of my Baltimore home. And then he immediately hired a swim teacher to come to our house every Saturday like clockwork to teach my sisters and me the ways of the water. Though he grew up in inner city Baltimore of meager means, my father (and my mother) had learned how to swim at young ages. And what was clear to them from the start was that in order to be safe–and have fun in the summer especially–you had to know how to swim.

If only this were so for most African-American families today! Instead, a recent study commissioned by USASwimming and conducted by the University of Memphis reveals a shocking truth. Not only do most black kids not know how to swim, the concept of “most” is not an exaggeration. Actually about 70 percent of black youth across America cannot swim.

Unfortunately, this lack of swimming skill is not translating into safe behavior in pools and oceans in this country. When the Fahrenheit is climbing and folks are looking for relief, the water is usually the most alluring (and cooling) destination they seek. (Read the full article)