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Daytona director wants to get black kids swimming

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Nearly 60 percent of black children cannot swim, compared with about 30 percent of their white playmates, according to a May 1 study by USA Swimming.That alarming study is one reason Daytona Beach Leisure Services Director Percy Williamson said it’s imperative to bring internationally known swim instructor Lee Pitts to the new Cypress Street pool to help prevent youth drownings.

“We need to bring attention to the absolute need for young inner-city kids to learn to swim,” Williamson said.

Conducted by the University of Memphis, the study interviewed 1,772 children between the ages of 6 and 16. Hispanic children also had a disproportionate inability to swim, with 56 percent of the kids not knowing how.

Pitts, who plans to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. today at the pool, is expected to talk about the historical reasons black and minority children often cannot swim.

One reason Williamson cited was how in times of slavery, blacks were not taught to swim because “that was thought to be a mode of escape.”

Thus, parents who didn’t learn to swim did not teach their children to swim, he said.

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Written by Symphony

May 16, 2008 at 2:01 pm

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