According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 372,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide every year. Today, there over 4 billion people who can’t swim across the globe, and if a parent does not know how to swim, there is only a 13 percent chance that a child in that household will learn how to swim. (Source: National research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis)
Swimming is a life-skill, and when more than 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, everyone should learn how to swim and be safe in the water. This is particularly true in communities surrounded by water. Michigan has more fresh-water coastline than any other state in the Union, and in diverse communities like Detroit, the statistics can be grim. According to the CDC, African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers.
Inception of Detroit Swims
Detroit Swims is an organization in Detroit, part of the Boll Family YMCA, that is taking the first steps in preventing childhood drowning by teaching children across the city how to swim for free!
“We created Detroit Swims five years ago in response to some of the statistics that USA Swimming put out. 70% of minority children will never learn how to swim”
It’s more than just teaching a swim lesson, Detroit Swims teaches life lessons and gives children an opportunity to gain confidence that can be applied to all aspects of their lives. The program provides lessons, a suit, cap, and goggles for free. Since the program’s inception, more than 5,000 children have learned how to swim. The program takes children from a fear of water, to early water safety in a matter of weeks.
Rowdy Gaines recently visited Detroit to run a swim clinic, where the proceeds benefited Detroit Swims. The program has also expanded to Belle Isle in a partnership between the YMCA, GM Foundation, Belle Isle Conservancy, Department of Natural Resources, Born and Raised Detroit Foundation, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%. There are still 100,000 children who need to learn how to swim in just the city of Detroit. You can learn more and support Detroit Swims at the link below.
Stop Drowning and Start Swimming.