Olympian Cullen Jones knows personally that knowing how to swim is more than just a sport; it helps to destroy negative stereotypes and may even help save lives.
Bronx-born Olympian swimmer Cullen Jones has decided to offer swimming lessons to African-Americans in order to knock down the idea that Black people don’t swim, further solidifying why they account for over half of the drowning victims in this country.
About 64 percent of African-American children and 45 percent of Hispanic children have little to no swimming ability, according to a 2017 study by the USA Swimming Foundation.
In cross referencing this data, for Black children, the drowning fatality rate for kids ages 5 to 14 was almost three times higher than that of white children in the same age range between 2005 and 2009.
“There’s still at least 10 people drowning a day,” the 34-year-old world-record holding swimmer said. “And there’s a simple solution: swim lessons.”
Jones also believes that discrimination and lack of access to swimming facilities help to contribute to the number of Black children without the ability to swim. Historically speaking, racism has kept Black people out of the pools in public areas in America for decades.
Ironically, Jones himself was almost a victim of a drowning in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as he almost drowned in Dorney Park’s White Water Kingdom near the base of an inner tube slide with his parents and lifeguard present.
It was this harrowing experience that led the Olympic gold medalist to not only learn how to swim, but give back to his people and teach others.
“We’re not trying to get you to be an Olympic swimmer, although it can happen. You never know,” Jones said. “But it’s more about learning how to swim and being safer around water.”