Swimming is a tremendously fun activity with a great number of health benefits, including cardiopulmonary health, increased strength and endurance, muscle toning, all in a relaxing and mostly low-impact exercise. I grew up on the east coast, learned to swim by the time I was five, and was a competitive swimmer as a teen. If there was water around, I was in it, and that hasn’t changed over the years.
Unfortunately, many people never learn to swim, and this is reflected in horrifying drowning statistics. It is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death around the world. In the year 2000, there were more than 400,000 drowning deaths globally. Sadly, most of these accidents are preventable.
Even worse, in the United States, minorities suffer disproportionately from drowning deaths. Almost twice as many black children (58%) as white children (31%) can’t swim, and they suffer three times the death rate. Hispanic children (56%) are also almost twice as likely to be unable to swim. We owe it to all children to teach them to swim, to enjoy the water and the health benefits and just plain fun.