Black Olympic Swimmer Determined To Teach Minority Children How To Swim
BY: John “Hennry” Harris
Gold-winning Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones is on a mission.
It is reported that an astonishing 70% of Black kids do not know how to swim and Jones want to help.
Cullen, a two-time Olympian (2008 and 2012), is the first African-American to break a long-course swimming world record and only the second African-American to win swimming gold. He is currently living in Charlotte where he is training in hopes of competing at the upcoming 2016 Rio Summer Olympic games, but he is also an ambassador for USA Swimming Foundation’s “Make a Splash” initiative.
“I started thinking about my mom, my cousins, my family that are at risk when they are near water and how they are not comfortable near water, that is something that blew me away and I decided this was my way to give back… I am happy to teach kids and help them have a great experience around water, so that maybe – you never know, they may become competitive swimmers. But most importantly, it’s about (children) getting lessons they need because the drowning rates are entirely too high. We have the vaccine to the problem: the cure is swim lessons,” he told The AJC in a recent interview.
Getting our kids water safe is a noteworthy cause. In a story published by USA Today, Black children ages 5-19 drown in swimming pools at a rate more than 5x that of white children. It is important to note that swimming is a life-saving skill, not just a sport according to Dr. Julie Gilchrist of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Other studies have attributed to the higher number of Blacks not being able to swim to the lack of access to public pools and a history of segregated swimming that have kept Blacks out of the water – and if parents don’t know to swim, they are likely to pass on not knowing how to swim.
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