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Study: 70 percent of African American kids can't swim

3 years ago May 24, 2012 May 24, 2012 Thursday, May 24 2012 Thursday, May 24, 2012 5:18:04 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Olivia LaBorde

BATON ROUGE- Minority children, African Americans in particular, are more likely to die from an accidental drowning because more than half don't know how to swim. 

That's according to USA Swimming, which says 70 percent of African American kids don't know how to swim, and they're three times more likely to die from accidental drowning.

Experts say the problem is cultural and financial.

"Many don't have the opportunity to be near a pool, and others might not be able to afford lessons," said swim instructor Nora Palmer.

It's an issue that touches all races: 40 percent of white children and 60 percent of Hispanics also don't know how to swim.

Shannon Maggio didn't want to take any chances, and says she's been sending her son to swimming lessons since he was a baby.  Then last Saturday, Maggio's toddler fell into the river.  Thanks to his lessons, he was able to swim to safety.

"I never thought that it would happen," she said.  "We've been taking him to lessons as a preventative measure. And it paid off."

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is working with the YMCA, Red Cross, and schools nationwide to boost access to free lessons.

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