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Drowning in the Numbers: Learning How to Swim Can Save Black Lives

learning how to swim
Source: Photo by Diversity in Aquatics

Drowning is a major global problem, causing about 235,000 deaths yearly, with the United States alone experiencing an average of 10-11 deaths per day – no wonder in 2021, the WHO labeled drowning the third leading cause of unintentional death. 

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For African Americans, the risk of drowning is particularly alarming as they have a 1.5 times higher drowning death rate than White individuals, with the most significant disparity observed in Black children aged 10-14, who are a staggering 7.6 times more likely to drown in swimming pools compared to their White peers. These are sobering statistics, and it all stems from the fact that most Black people can’t swim! 

Drowning is preventable. And by simply learning how to swim via formal swimming classes, we can work to change the statistics and potentially save Black lives.

In this article, we will examine statistics that illustrate the dangers of drowning to Black people and explore the importance of swimming education and how it can make a difference in the Black community and beyond.

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Drowning Diversity Statistics in the US

Drowning in the Numbers: Learning How to Swim Can Save Black Lives
Source: Photo by Pexels
  • According to the WHO, drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury-related death (7%)  worldwide.
  • According to the CDC:
    • Children (age 1-4), males (80%), and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk of drowning.
    • 40% of child drownings happen in natural water, while 30% occur in swimming pools.
    • Death rates for drowning among Black children are 1.5 times higher than among White kids.
    • Black children aged 5 – 19 drown at rates 5.5 times higher than white children in pools.
    • Black American males ages 11-12 are ten times more likely to drown in public pools than white children in the same age range.
    • More African American youth (47%) drown in public pools than their White peers.
  • People with low income, ethnic minorities, and from rural dwellings are at higher risk of drowning.
  • Research shows if parents can’t swim, their children are unlikely to learn to swim. 
  • About 78% of African American families reported significantly higher numbers.
  • 64% of Black children can’t swim.
  • A four-sided isolation fence around a swimming pool can prevent a child’s risk of drowning by 83%.
  • Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% in children ages 1-4.

These statistics underscore the need for increased awareness and action to prevent drowning deaths, particularly among children and communities of color, and speak volumes on why Black people need to learn how to swim.

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Importance of Learning How to Swim for Adults and Children

learning how to swim
Source: Photo by Pexels

Learning to swim is an essential life-saving skill that everyone should acquire, irrespective of age or race. The statistics on drowning are alarming, and it’s not just average African Americans who are at risk; many Black celebrities have also experienced the devastating consequences of not knowing how to swim, or losing their kids to fatal drowning accidents.

The drowning accidents of R&B singer Usher Raymond‘s 5-year-old son in 2015, South African rugby player Jannie du Plessis‘ 10-month-old son in 2021, and Nigerian musician Davido‘s 3-year-old son in late 2022 cement the significance of learning to swim and ensuring young children acquire this vital skill to prevent such heartbreaking tragedies.

The best way to learn to swim is by taking formal swimming lessons, where you get professional guidance and tutoring; it helps you avoid the risk of drowning in large bodies of water like rivers or seas.

Traditional swimming classes are ideal for adults and children, as they offer professional guidance, teach proper swimming techniques, and provide a safe learning environment. A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that engaging in formal swimming lessons has been linked to an 88% decrease in the risk of drowning in children aged 1-4. 

Read Also: Black Health Disparities Run Deep – Here Are Some Statistics

In addition to preventing drowning deaths, swimming has numerous health benefits, such as toning and strengthening muscles, increasing flexibility, reducing stress hormone levels in adults, aiding weight loss, and improving cardiovascular health. Moreover, swimming is an excellent way to have fun and bond with family and friends while enjoying water activities.

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In conclusion, swimming is vital for the survival of infants and adults, particularly Black people who face a higher risk of drowning. Do not let fear or a lack of knowledge prevent you from learning how to swim and potentially saving a life. Enroll in a swimming class in your vicinity today and give yourself or your child the gift of a lifetime: the ability to swim safely and confidently.

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James Essiet
James Essiet
I love creating.


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