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64% of African -American children have little to no swimming ability.
Last week, King James’ I Promise School in Akron, Ohio offered its first-ever week-long summer camp, focused on swimming. About 125 of the 140 attendees, who recently finished third and fourth grade, had never been in the water before.
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Manuel explained the importance of not only water safety but accessibility for the students involved:
“It’s about bringing swimming into a space where it may not be accessible and allowing those children to learn how to swim and save their lives,” she said, adding “it’s really exciting knowing that this is the first time that these children are getting in the pool and playing in the water and getting their first pair of goggles and [maybe] swimsuits.”
Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual medal in swimming when she won the 100 free at the 2016 Rio Olympics and has since partnered with the USA Swimming Foundation and the Make a Splash campaign to promote water safety for kids.
“I would love to see more minorities in the sport of swimming,” Manuel added, noting that visibility is a key part of not only saving lives but getting more people involved in the sport.
“Often, African-American children don’t see themselves as swimmers. They see themselves as basketball players or volleyball players or track stars. Introducing the sport of swimming to them not only saves their lives but allows themselves to see the possibility of becoming an Olympic champion like myself. It [could] open the door for a college scholarship in a sport that maybe they didn’t feel like was for them.”
According to the CDC, two children under the age of 14 die from drowning every day in the United States. Additionally, it’s noted that 64% of African -American 45% of Hispanic/Latino, and 40% of Caucasian children have little to no swimming ability.
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