Like most of my fellow Swimmists, my childhood memories are surrounded by my swim experience. Sadly, not everyone of my generation shares the same happy poolside memories.
While swim team was a great experience- learning to swim kept me safe. As both a parent and a coach, it is unfathomable that for some children the opportunity to learn to swim is not even a consideration. By far it is Black communities and lower income communities that are being denied the opportunity to keep themselves and their children safe in the water.
Not knowing how to swim! Not feeling safe or secure near the water. And studies show It is cyclical. If you don't swim it is likely your children won't either.
Now Imagine how helpless you would feel
as a parent knowing you can't help your child if they fall in to the water. Or how afraid you would be if they wanted to go to the beach or the pool!
How has this been allowed to happen?
As stated in a great blog post on myswimpro.com, it was "Systemic racism and institutional decisions that kept Black people and people of lower socioeconomic status out of the water."
Learning to Swim Must be A Priority
Standing on the deck, now as a swim coach, I see things are changing- though not as fast as they should.
And while I'd love to see all kids have the opportunity to be part of competitive swimming- drowning is one of the leading causes of childhood death. It is a pandemic.
Black children aged 10-14 years drown at rates 7.6 times higher than white children.
Black children are more likely to drown in public pools, and white children are more likely to drown in natural water, Native American drowning death rates for people ages 29 and younger are 2 times higher than the rates for white people.
We are no longer talking about fun at the pool but life or death.
Everyone should know how to swim.
How to help?
Empower people to learn to swim!
Increase water safety education in your community.
Bring together relevant groups and individuals to make a broader collective impact.
Adopt new policies and create new norms that prioritize diversity.