Janine Davis

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I have a confession. I am NOT one of the 80% of Americans who say they can swim. I fall more so on the other end of the spectrum. According to the American Red Cross, only 56% of those who say they can swim can actually perform all five basic skills needed to swim safely. That would be me.

The crazy part. I have actually taken swimming lessons. And I learned to swim in less than a week. But unlike riding a bike, those swimming skills don’t come back as easily. That’s especially if you don’t ever get back into the water after your swimming lessons. Go figure.

Racism At The Swimming Pool

Most of the experts will agree it’s likely easier to learn to swim as a kid. Needless to say, I didn’t. And I wasn’t alone. There are still many more Black children who know little or nothing about swimming. The USA Swimming Federation says some 64% of Black kids don’t know how to swim, compared to 40% of White children.

An NPR article by Jeff Wiltse (Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America) explored the history of racism at America’s swimming pools. Wiltse noted that the U.S. built a number of pools in poor, immigrant, and working-class white neighborhoods in the 19th and 20th centuries. But, pools were NOT put in predominantly black neighborhoods.

And it wasn’t until the 1920s and 1930s, there was a boom in pool-building in the United States. Wiltse explained those pools were large, leisure-resort pools. They were accented by grassy lawns and fancy sundecks. For Black Americans, pools were not a thing, especially with segregation in full play. Very few pools were available to Blacks, so most did not have access.

Let Me Swim

Not the case today. Many Black people have gone on to the Olympics for swimming (Cullen Jones, Natalie Hinds, Lia Neal). Plus, more people in general are learning to swim. From kids to adults, the push is on from public health officials who say it’s critical to learn to swim . The Centers for Disease Control says drowning is a major public health issue that can be prevented.

Check out these spots in Charlotte where you can learn to swim.

  • British Swim School

    South Tryon 
    4800 South Tryon St.
    Charlotte NC, 28217
    Phone: 704.440.3560

    Piper Glen 
    5110 Piper Station Dr
    Charlotte NC, 28277
    Phone: 704.440.3560

    12325 Copper Way
    Charlotte, NC 28277
    Phone: 704.440.3560

    Whether you want to introduce your infant to the water, advance your child’s swimming skills, or are an adult who wants to learn how to swim, British Swim School offers a variety of swimming classes for all ages and skill levels.

  • Charlotte Aquatics

    7835 Little Avenue
    Charlotte, NC 28226
    Phone: 704.341.9673

    At Charlotte Aquatics, the company’s culture is centered around the 3 C’s: comfort, confidence and competence.

  • Charlotte Swim Academy

    9315-A Monroe Road
    Charlotte, NC, 28270
    Phone: 704.846.5343

    Charlotte Swim Academy has been open since 1991 and since then has coached over 25,000 students to be successful swimmers. Many Swim Academy graduates have gone on to become college level competitive swimmers. Private swim classes are available.

  • YMCA of Greater Charlotte

    400 E Morehead Street
    Charlotte, NC 28202
    Phone: 704.716.6200

    The YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s swim class progression curriculum is designed to help participants reach their goals and provide a clear progression track. Students can register for one of eight stages under our three swim categories depending upon their age and current swim ability.

  • OWA Swim School

    12210 US Highway 29 North
    Charlotte, NC 28262
    Phone: 704.547.5991

    This school has a beautiful, indoor heated pool, which has been said to be one of the cleanest in all of Charlotte. This is a private facility and the pool is kept pristine.  The pool has different depths (4, 6, and 15 feet) to accommodate all levels of swimmers.

  • Little Otter Swim School

    8200 Tower Point Drive
    Charlotte, NC 28227
    Phone: 704.321.4269

    School offers year-round group lessons in our indoor pool. Baby Swim Classes, Beginner Swim Classes for 3-5 Year Olds, Beginner Swim Classes for 6-11 Year Olds, Intermediate Swim Classes, and Advanced-Excel Swim Team are all available. Programs are available year-round, our pool is sparkling clean, teaching occurs in small groups, and we use warm indoor pools where parents can watch their kids learn.

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