19 October 2007

Swimming Pool - Final Frontier for Black Athletes

Why does the US send no black swimmers to the olympics? Could it be that black children have little access to deepwater pools? An excellent article here.

Some excerpts:

.. Less than 2 percent of the 300,000 athletes registered with USA Swimming are black.

Slowly but surely, racial barriers in the other “country club” sports have fallen. .... no African American athlete has become a national face for minorities in swimming. And until that happens, the swimming pool remains the final frontier for minority athletes.

... Lack of exposure to swimming leads to drowning rates that are three times higher for minority children than for whites.
With the question of exposure comes the question of economics. Fees for private swimming clubs average between $50 and $100 per month. With nearly one-third of black children in the United States living below the poverty line — more than double that of white children — the cost of joining a private pool is not always a possibility.

Programs like Make a Splash and Swim for Life! are free to members of the Boys and Girls Club. Fees for City of Atlanta Dolphins, which is funded by the city of Atlanta, are $250 a year.

But Swim for Life! struggled ... Staffing — and retaining — qualified swimming instructors for the program was difficult, and coordinating lessons between pools has been a logistical nightmare.

...many of the pools were dilapidated and should have been shut down. Renovating and maintaining them was expensive. ...

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