Just keep swimming

Simone Manuel, Lia Neal, Ashleigh Johnson and Cullen Jones; if you do not know who these people are, as a black community, we have failed.

They are the Olympians who defy the stereotype, “black people can’t swim” and have proven to the world that we can do more than just sing, dance, run, and play football or basketball. The black community is capable of so much, including the one thing that terrifies us most: swimming.

What is the cause of blacks being terrified to swim? Is it because we don’t want to get our fresh Brazilian bundles wet? Because the water makes us ashy? Or is it because black parents have grown up with the fear of water and learning how to swim, and they have passed that trait on to their children, hindering them from learning a skill that can save their lives?

Jasmine Brown, an occupational therapy student from Miami, FL, says, “swimming is something I was okay in but wanted to be better in because it can save my life.”

According to USA Swimming, 70% of African-American children cannot swim and are four times more likely to drown. USA Swimming also reports that black children are drowning three times more than other races. Learning how to swim is more than a necessity, it’s life saving.

Jorge Olaves is a professor at FAMU who teaches lifeguard training, CPR, first-aid, pool management and many other courses. He also runs a swim lesson camp during the summer for the Tallahassee community where he receives over 200 children each year.

Olaves is a true believer in teaching kids of all backgrounds how to swim, especially those in the black community. He believes that the fear of swimming in the black community originated during the time of slavery.

Olaves explained, “slaves came from the west side of Africa and their trade was fishing and they were great swimmers.” Now in 2018, the black community keeps themselves from learning what their African ancestors were born to do. 

Manuel is one of many African-American athletes who have made history in the water. She won her first gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle during the 2016 Rio Olympics, setting a new record of 52.70 seconds.

According to The Guardian, after winning this medal, Manuel stated, “the gold medal wasn’t for me, it was for the people who came before me and inspired me to stay in this sport, and for people who believe that they can’t do it. I hope that I’m an inspiration to others to get out there and try swimming. They might be pretty good at it.”

Here please include an interview, preferably a student that swims or used to swim, about why they think swimming is important

Or if you interview a non swimmer student ask them why they never learned to swim

This paragraph was originally you paraphrasing his words, if this is not a direct quote from him please include some rather than having the paraphrased words