Study shows Latino and black children at higher risk of swim drownings

LatinaLista — With summer fast approaching, kids everywhere look forward to swimming. Whether it’s at the beach, lake or a pool, swimming provides all kids a chance to cool off and have some fun.

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Yet, when it comes to actually knowing how to swim, a new study commissioned by USA Swimming shows that Latino and black children are far more likelier to not know how to swim than their Anglo counterparts.

(Photo: danieldiazfotografo.com.ar)

Diversity in Swimming Study reveals that among 2000 children and their parents surveyed:

70% of African American children and 58% of Hispanic children have low or no swim ability, compared to 40% of Caucasians, putting them at risk for drowning.

Surprisingly, it’s not income level or even transportation concerns that influences these high numbers among African American and Latino children. It’s something much stronger and infinitely more influential — the mothers.

The study found mothers’ fears of their children drowning was the major reason children were held back from learning how to swim.

But whoever admits to not knowing how to swim?

When researchers asked the children if they knew how to swim, 40 percent of all the children said they knew how but only 18 percent of them had ever taken classes. When the researchers pressed the children on how they learned, 28 percent of Latino children and 26 percent of African American children replied that they had taught themselves.

It’s sad news since 60 percent of the children who have low or no swimming abilities told researchers they plan to spend their summers going “swimming” at least once.

“We were awestruck by the focus group participants’ stories, which revealed how deeply rooted the ‘fear factor’ is embedded,” commented Dr. Richard Irwin who led the team of researchers together with his wife, Dr. Carol Irwin.

The study underscores the need for more swimming programs that incorporate culturally sensitive approaches, along with, parental education that explains the need for children to learn how to swim from a professional instructor so they can enjoy swimming and the parents can be confident that something as senseless as drowning won’t take their children’s lives.

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