If It Swims We Have It

When I was v years old, I nearly drowned while visiting a Pennsylvania amusement park. I spent 30 seconds underwater not knowing what to practice. Luckily, I was rescued by a lifeguard and resuscitated, only sadly events like these tin can result in tragedy.

It was at that betoken my parents enrolled me in swim lessons, and my love of the sport developed.

Since then, swimming has been a constant in my life, and while my days competing in the puddle may be finished, my work is far from done. Since earning my
first Olympic medal in 2008, I’ve made it my life mission to help others learn how to swim, with a focus on bridging the minority swimming gap and diversifying the sport that inverse my life.

It’south my hope this letter volition assistance bring attention to the importance of diversity and inclusion in learning to swim for all children. And then here is my phone call to parents, families and communities to prioritize h2o safety and drowning prevention as we work together to combat childhood drowning.

Preventing the unthinkable

Sadly, drowning remains the
No. 1 cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4. Every day, co-ordinate to the Centers for Affliction Control and Prevention,
three children
in the United States fall victim to the lethal dangers that are associated with water-related accidents.

In improver, it has been
reported that
more than 60% of African American children cannot swim, leaving millions of families questioning what they could have done to prevent the unthinkable.

Dr. Gail Parker:

Black women I know are resilient, just gild pathologizes them as mentally sick anyway

Growing upwardly, I didn’t always feel included or represented in sure aspects of the sport. I felt discrimination throughout my pond career, only we’ve made great strides in changing that. As parents, we tin promote inclusivity with our kids at a young age. If you lot’re hearing kids say discriminatory comments or things that aren’t socially acceptable, witnessing bullying or any triggers – start having these deep conversations with your children. Being dissimilar isn’t bad or wrong. It’s a strength!

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Historically, stereotypes, bigotry and lack of access to pools, regardless of economic status,
accept kept people of color
out of the h2o. For some, it stems from fear – fear of the water and fearfulness of how they might be treated. Unfortunately, this becomes a legacy that gets passed on from one generation to some other.

I’m working to modify that and encourage the parents who make sure their children can read, write and play to also take necessary steps to ensure their children can swim. Equally a new parent to my son, Ayvn, my passion for water safety simply continues to strengthen. This isn’t merely about changing stereotypes; this is well-nigh saving lives. Swim lessons tin help reduce the
risk of drowning by 88%, co-ordinate to the USA Swimming Foundation.

Cullen Jones

There has absolutely been a lot of progress in bridging the minority gap in swimming, but there is more that needs to be done. Improvements have been fabricated such as passing legislation similar the
Every Child a Swimmer Police, which is a huge win for water safety equally hopefully more states follow suit. The
USA Swimming Foundation

supports swim lesson providers with resource, materials and grant funding to allow the opportunity for every child beyond the country to learn to swim. At that place are likewise learn-to-swim places similar Goldfish Swim Schoolhouse, prioritizing h2o rubber with initiatives similar the
Safer Swimmer Pledge
and the
Goldfish RX program

Constance Royster and Kurt Schmoke:

War protests, Black Panther Party: Yale alums reflect on Black student motility of 1970s

I hear people of color say all the time, “I never idea almost learning to swim, or swim lessons,” but they decided to sign upwards after hearing the message, be information technology from myself, Goldfish, the USA Pond Foundation or whatsoever other water safety advocates.

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I’ll leave y’all with this: Talk more about water safety for all people – this is the pillar of getting people to take action, and it’due south working. People are starting to understand the importance of learning to swim and available resources to provide support. We’ve come a long fashion but have a long way to get. With your help, we tin can make waves for h2o safety.

Cullen Jones
has committed to a lifetime of community advocacy and set out on a mission to help people to understand the importance of learning to swim. He is an ambassador and lath member of the Us Pond Foundation, philanthropic sales manager of United states Speedo, and brand ambassador of Goldfish Swim School that spans 125-plus schools beyond North America

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Many Blackness children can’t swim. Lessons can salvage lives