CDC Finds Over One Third of Black American Adults Do Not Know How to Swim

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released a study investigating the rate of drowning deaths in the United States. Since 2019, deaths from drowning have increased by 500 deaths in each year from 2020-2022, resulting in over 4,500 deaths by drowning every year. The highest rates of drowning among different racial groups were found among Black Americans, as well as people from American Indian and Alaska Native backgrounds.

According to researchers at the CDC, 36.8 percent of Black adults reported not knowing how to swim, compared to just 15 percent of all adults. Additionally, 63 percent of Black adults reported never taking a swimming lesson; 9 percentage points greater than the rate of all American adults.

The CDC suggests these differences in swimming ability might be linked to differences in access to swimming lessons, such as lessons being too expensive or entirely unavailable in certain communities. The study authors urge policymakers, public health professionals and community leaders to take action to increase the availability of water safety lessons for Americans from all backgrounds. This could include revitalizing public pools, promoting affordable lessons at organizations such as the American Red Cross or YMCA, bringing seasoned swimming training professionals to underserved communities, and hiring diverse aquatic staff.

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