Learning To Swim

D and I learned to swim as adolescents. We agreed that we wanted the girls to learn much earlier. With the proverbial swift kick from my mother we enrolled them for group and private lessons at our local Y. 

 

Initially, CC was afraid because of her pool scare on Mother's Day. During the second session she did much better and was willing to push through her fear.  There is no real way to "drown-proof" your kids, but I want them to learn to swim and be aware of water safety.

 

According to the CDC: 

Between 1999-2010, the fatal unintentional drowning rate for African Americans was significantly higher than that of whites across all ages. The disparity is widest among children 5-18 years old. The disparity is most pronounced in swimming pools; African American children 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites. This disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years where African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites.

Factors such as access to swimming pools, the desire or lack of desire to learn how to swim, and choosing water-related recreational activities may contribute to the racial differences in drowning rates. Available rates are based on population, not on participation. If rates could be determined by actual participation in water-related activities, the disparity in minorities’ drowning rates compared to whites would be much greater. SOURCE

So why don't more Black people learn how to swim?!  According to Southgate the problem has its roots in slavery, where most problems for Black folks began, "it has been documented that before slavery, many West Africans could and did swim. But a slave who could swim was a slave with another means of escape, so slave owners went to great lengths to make it impossible to keep this skill alive." The article goes on to say, "Later, segregation took its ugly toll at public beaches and pools. According to the historian Jeff Wiltse in an NPR interview, “whites set up, essentially, sentinel guards at the entrance to the pool, and when black swimmers tried to come in and access them, they were beaten up, sometimes with clubs.” One white motel manager was caught on camera pouring acid into a pool in which blacks were staging a 'swim-in.' Institutionalized racism was shored up by specious scholarship, like a 1969 report titled 'The Negro and Learning to Swim: The Buoyancy Problem Related to Reported Biological Difference.'” SOURCE

 

 First Swimming Lesson

First Swimming Lesson

All in all our little ones will be excellent swimmers and will be well aware of how to ride out a rip current while at the beach. By next year this time they will have had hundreds of hours of swim time at the EO YMCA.