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.
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
Welcome to the discussion, Dudley. You will be surprised how much you can bring to the table with just a little effort. I recommend that you work with a master teacher of swimming to make sure that you are helping kids learn the basics correctly. We sometimes overlook the basics and want to get right into teaching the crawl stroke, and bypass essential skills like control of breathing, control of buoyancy, control of body position, basic locomotion, etc. Encouraging kids to swim is most important, and the neat thing is that you do not have to be as good as Cullen Jones just to save yourself. Let me tell you a little story about inspiration. My mother was my hero and my inspiration when I needed to become a swimmer. I wanted to hang out with my favorite uncle at his fishing camp on a marshy island on Lake Catherine in Louisiana. I was about 9 or 10, and thought I was good. I had to pass my father's swim test just to get there. Well, my dutiful mother took me and my cousin to the Dryades Street YMCA (no pool), and we learned in an over-crowded, segregated swimming pool two blocks from the "Y". You will be surprised how fast you can learn when motivated. I passed my father's swim test with flying colors and continued going to my uncle's camp through high school & college. Later, in high school, I noticed my mother never went into the water whenever we went to the public beach at Lake Ponchartrain or the Lincoln Beach swimming pool. When I was in college, and after she saw me swim competitively at Southern U, she confessed that she was terrified of water; she did not know how to swim. She never passed her fear of water on to us; instead, she took us to the pool. You are doing the right thing, and as you improve your skills and teaching technique, so will the young people you aspire to reach. Just tell every 8 year old kid that it is natural to swim, everybody learns to swim. So what do they know? They know what you teach them. Best to you.
that is a very inspiring story about your mom. I agree with you, perhaps I should take some master swim classes before working with kids. I must admit though I understand the mechanics of swimming almost better than I can swim. since learning to swim I have been actually teaching my YMCA swim coach how to improve his own stroke(he leads with his shoulder on the recovery portion) he is a young white kid and has helped me a lot but now that I have studied the mechanics so thoroughly I see many flaws in his freestyle but only rarely tell him about them as he is so young. I also help my wife with her swimming she practices so much, sometimes swimming 5000 plus yards a week and is still struggling.
I have a question: is there a place on this site for us to post video's of ourselves swimming for other to view so we can get tips and help each other??
I grew up around pools and the ocean. My grandmother said I could swim before I could walk. I worked my way through college as a lifeguard. I just put in 2100 meters this morning and I swim three days a week for fitness. Like anything in life starting early, being encouraged by elders and regular practice are all key in making swimming a lifelong passion.
Great question. You might want to run your question through Jayson or Shaun. Better yet, why not take the lead and start a group for swim technique discussion and for posting video. Personally, I am not so concerned about critiquing technique as much as I am concerned about people learning the basics of swimming right on through the intermediate level. I did all that when I coached age group and high school programs. But there are many who will share your passion for technique. So, go for it. And I will be a contributor from time-to-time. And you may be able to share and lend your photography and videography skills to this forum. What you are proposing is a no-brainer. You have the talent and the motivation, so go for it. We will all benefit from your good work. And thank you for your very kind words. Peace!
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?