Effort aims to bridge swimming gap for #minorities

(AP) Six-year-old Queen Epps is decked out in her pink Spongebob Squarepants bathing suit and green goggles, ready to learn how to hold her breath.

She is one of 17 students from Liberty City — one of Miami’s most impoverished and crime-ridden neighborhoods — sitting along the edge of the pool, splashing their legs in the water and holding the sides as they learn to blow bubbles and get in and out of the pool.

All are part of the majority of African-American and Hispanic children across the country who don’t know how to swim — and here at the Swim Gym along the banks of Biscayne Bay, they’re part of the outreach effort to help get kids into the water.

“It’s a safety issue. We say, you don’t send your son out to play football without wearing a helmet, yet people go to the beach and they don’t know how to swim,” said Sue Anderson, USA Swimming’s Director of Programs and Services.

USA Swimming commissioned a study conducted by the University of Memphis and released in May that showed 69 percent of black children and 58 percent of Hispanic kids either had low or no swimming ability.

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