7 out of 10 children in Detroit can't swim

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jun 01, 2018

Swimming pools have opened, but several children in the metro-Detroit area don’t know how to swim and are at risk of drowning. 

According to USA Swimming 70 percent of African American and 60 percent of hispanic children don’t know how to swim. Nearly ten people drown each day. 

The Center for Disease Control says African American children 5 to 19 years old drown in swimming pools at rates five and a half times higher than those of white children. 

Alexis Townsend is the Aquatic Director at the Royal Oak YMCA, she’s also African-American. 

When she was a child she nearly drowned in a pool. 

Now she teaches other children how to swim. 

“Some say, oh you know how to swim? I say yes, because in society they tell us that we don’t know how to swim, but I’m an advocate for we swim too. African-Americans swim,” Townsend says. 

According to the YMCA 7 out of 10 children in Detroit can’t swim. 

That’s why they started Detroit Swims a program designed to break the barriers. 

Julie Koroly with the YMCA says one reason children can’t swim is because of a generational gap. 

“They can’t save themselves so they don’t want to expose their children to that access, transportation to get to the pool,” she says. 

Over 6,000 children have gone through the program. 

It’s not just children, adults are in the same boat. 

Lifetime Fitness in Troy says their swim classes are packed with adults. 

“A lot of individuals come in training for triathlons, some have had a lifetime fear and it’s on their bucket list of things to do to just overcome this fear of the water or they want to be safe with their kids” says Elite Lifetime Instructor Melissa Mayer. 


To learn more about the swimming programs click here: