Culturally speaking, most African American men and women do not swim well enough to save themselves, and for those who can swim, most do not participate in organized water sport activities. Why is this? Can the culture of non-swimmers be reversed? How?
Thank for your excellent input, Robeson, these are important. Keep in mind that Diversity in Aquatics has a mandate, and that is to bring aquatic specialists like you and I together, so that we can network amongst each other about common solutions in bringing swimming to the folks who need it the most. It is more than just poor folks. As you noted in your masters thesis, about 58% of all African Americans do not swim, and I suspect this statistic may be based more on the educated masses than the uneducated folks, so it may very well be even higher when you go down the rank and file of all African Americans. A professional swimming association like NASI will give the professionals who teach and coach swimming credibility in their pursuit of excellence. People like Shaun Anderson and John Cruzat have done a lot to heighten awareness about the problems and potential for change than all of us combined. I am sure that they will play a significant role in a professional swimming association. It is doable, but it will take much time and effort to bring it to fruition. I prefer that NASI and Diversity in Aquatics remain separate and apart from an organizational point of view, but colloborate to solve common problems. Summit meetings will have to be planned, people will have to come together in agreement, focused energy for change must be brought to the table, and only then will it happen. Organizing a professional organization takes time and effort. It will not happen overnight. But together, we can make it happen. I will welcome an opportunity to be a part of making this happen.
Keep in mind that this is only part of the scenario. The other part has to do with promoting positive energy so that people realize that 70% of our planet contains water, and at some point in time, you will encounter it. Thank you Naji for this inspiration. Are you prepared? Remember, we are dealing with people whose mindset must be refocused from lack of access and a bad attitude to swimming self empowerment. This takes time, patience and positive energy.
Let'a hold a meeting, all of us, the sooner, the better. When we meet, we will make decisions. When we make decisions, we will become change agents. When we become change agents for swimming, we will inspire others to empower themselves. And that's when good stuff happens! R U ready, Angela?
How many times have you tried to talk to black folks about swimming, only to be shut down with a remark like, "I can't swim, so I stay away from the water!"
How do you get it across that that attitude is wrong? Not to mention unwise? How many more people have to drown because they won't even consider learning how to swim? I guess that's the whole question you put forth in the first place, Erroll. Forgive me for being redundant. Just a tad frustrated. . .
Hmm-mm-m! This is hard, very hard to do. Our folks who don't know their history of great ocean swimming, as pointed out by Naji, just don't get it. I will go one up on you. I have heard from "our tribe" that swimming is for White folks . . . you ever hear this? When our daughter attended Hampton University, where I was the Director of Aquatics, she pledged a sorority, whose name shall remain nameless at this point. She was given the nickname "Average White Girl" (amongst others) by her big sisters. Why? She was a trained lifeguard, WSI, swam competitively on an age-group team, and was a certified scuba diver, plus she knew how to ski. Well, I was furious, prepared to get THESE women thrown off-campus (I had the goods on them), but decided to keep my cool after a soul-searching discussion with my wife, who is also a member of said sorority, and said nothing. You are simply not going to change these die hard attitudes, these folks will take it to the grave with them. Our job is to teach, not preach, and it must start somewhere. I also like what Naji said about selected sports favored by Black folks, "You don't die dunking a basketball, and you don't die when you run the perfect pass route. But you do die in a swimming pool if you accidentally slip into deep water unprepared to save your life. And you will die if the fishing boat you are on becomes swamped by a big boat wave, and you are not wearing a PFD, and don't know how to swim." I will adddress your concerns a little later. I am waiting to hear what others may have to say. Do not give up on the Brothers and Sisters - they will eventually hear your message.
Angela, Earl is right this is a very difficult question to answer, but it needs to be answered. When I hear folks say that "I can't swim so I stay away from the water," I try to get them to see that is just not possible on a planet that is comprised of 75% of what they are trying to get away from. Ever been on an airplane before? Well I can guarantee that you will be flying over water at some point and although flying has one of the lowest statistics for accidents, we all remember the brave pilot who had to land his plane on the Hudson I believe to save his passengers. Now they had the life-rafts and all but suppose they didn't inflate and some of the PDF's floated away, now what?
You know, we will always have issues with those whose mindset is still in the "Black folks don't swim" world, but we need to inform them and encourage them nonetheless. This is where I bring up our storied history. How we were some of the greatest swimmers in the world long ago. How we were doing the front crawl long before the Aussies made up the name (see Bruce Wigo's video on that). How we taught slave owners and their families how to swim. That before the modern Coast Guard was set up its precursor was The Life Saving Service and that one of the most respected and successful station's of this organization (Station 17 on Pea Island North Carolina) was run by an all Black crew, headed by Richard Ethridge.
I keep coming back to our history because I am reminded of what brother Malcolm X was quoted as saying, "Of all of our studies, history is the one best suited to reward our research."
I fear that those with the attitude to stay away from the water will learn the hard way by having a loved one drown. I don't want that to happen and neither do any of you. Robson, Angela, Earl your all correct, access is needed, well trained coaches are essential, an organization that we can all sign on to is a stroke of genius Robson and Earl and I will participate in anyway I can to make it so. We just have to incorporate history along with aquatic skills, maybe incorporate them into the programs that those in the association could impart.
I'm rambling now - as always - but I'm very excited about the ideas that are coming together on this. If any of you wish to contact me further inbox me and I'll give you my private email and phone.
I agree with you wholeheartedly. I realized that last year when I decided to learn to swim. now that I pretty decent at it and open water swim in the summer and use indoor pools all winter I want to make a difference. what do you think is the solution?
Dudley, try and see if there are kids or even adults in your area that are interested in learning to swim or know more about our history in swimming. Let them know that there are low cost and free places to learn to swim (like www.joshproject.org, YMCA etc). One thing that I am doing is getting kids into open water swimming. I feel that if we get them in early they will not be intimidated by all that read and hear about open water. When I finally get folks out there I love it when we are done and they say, "I had no idea how fun it is to swim in the ocean this is great!" To me when I swim in open water it is like being in a magnificent cathedral in Rome gazing up at the marvelous architecture...simply heaven to me!!!
I am trying to do just that. I volunteer at a youth center in town that serves a hugh kids of color population. I am trying to get their program coordinator to let me work with the kids at our local YMCA which where I learned to swim. I know the mechanics of swimming so well I think I can help kids learn like I did