Hampton University Dives Into Aquatic Education

A study by USA Swimming found that 60 percent of all African-American children cannot swim. Less than 1 percent of the organization’s 300,000 members are African Americans. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that black children are three times as likely to drown as white children.

The reason for the racial differences in swimming proficiency is primarily because many African Americans grow up in inner-city neighborhoods where they have no access to a swimming pool. Many older African Americans have bought into the stereotype that black people are not good swimmers, and they pass this down to their children and grandchildren.

Hampton University, the historically black educational institution in Virginia, is now looking to teach a new generation of African Americans that swimming is not only fun but it can be a valuable exercise routine. The university offers a minor certificate program in aquatics. Twelve students are currently enrolled in the aquatics program. In addition to instruction in swimming, students take courses in water safety, first aid, scuba diving, aquatics management, and the teaching of swimming. The goal of the program is to produce graduates who are not only capable swimmers and swimming instructors but to create role models so that black children will be encouraged to swim.