A group called  the “100 Black Men of Jackson“(100blackmenjackson.org) launched a nation-wide effort to save lives and to stop child drownings. Based in Jackson, Mississippi, the group will teach swimming lessons for infants, toddlers and children of all ages, just like the life saving lessons we teach every day at Baby Otter Swim School.

Their noble campaign comes  after a USA Swimming and University of Memphis study that featured particularly disheartening statistics like seven of 10 African American children cannot adequately swim. The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control  revealed more troubling facts about African Americans and drowning risks:

  • Between 2000 and 2007, the fatal unintentional drowning rate for African Americans across all ages was 1.3 times that of whites. For American Indians and Alaskan Natives, this rate was 1.7 times that of whites.
  • Rates of fatal drowning are notably higher among these populations in certain age groups. The fatal drowning rate of African American children ages 5 to 14 is 3.1 times that of white children in the same age range. For American Indian and Alaskan Native children, the fatal drowning rate is 2.3 times higher than for white children.
  • Factors such as the physical environment (e.g., access to swimming pools) and a combination of social and cultural issues (e.g., wanting to learn how to swim, and choosing recreational water-related activities) may contribute to the racial differences in drowning rates. Current rates are based on population, and not on participation. If rates could be determined by actual participation in water-related activities, disparity in minorities drowning rates compared to whites would be much greater.

To reverse the devastating trend, the group is  focusing on making a national difference: one child at a time.

Below, you can read an excerpt from an article titled “Think Globally, Act Locally“, by USA Swimming.

“The group has set out on a mission to lower drowning rates, raise awareness, and get kids to learn water safety through swimming lessons. They want to teach 125 kids how to swim.”

“Every year at least 20 children have near drowning accidents. Then there are the five to seven youths (each year) that have fatal incidents in the pool,” says the director of the 100 Black Men of Jackson, Iday Oredein.

“Groups like these – local, diverse, pro-swimming groups – are tackling the complicated issues head-on. They do so by offering swimming lessons to those who want them, in areas where parents might be afraid to send their own children into the pool.

In north Jackson, in this excellent article written by Elizabeth Crisp, a parent was interviewed about her 13-year-old son’s swimming lesson. And what she says illustrates and magnifies a problem also identified in the University of Memphis study: some parents are afraid of the water.

“I was afraid that he would drown [in swimming lessons],” a parent said. “It was more my phobia than his.”

It’s a cyclical problem. Parents did not learn to swim. Thus, their own kids don’t learn to swim. And their kids don’t learn to swim. And if the problem is never tackled, there is a fear that it will persist long into the future.”


For more information about drowning prevention, see our section on swim safety tips and visit our main site: babyotterswimschool.com, to enroll your child in a class. Our national spokesman, Andre Dawson, is an African American male who didn’t learn how to swim until he was 50 years old and several years removed from his pro baseball career. Today, he is helping Baby Otter Swim School touch the lives of swimmers across the nation, of every age and every race.



A child should know the basics of water survival at the time they begin to crawl. Once they master that skill and know how to get out of a pool or a lake if they should fall in they then need to continue and learn more advanced swimming techniques.  The technique in this video is usually taught to children ages 5 and older due to the development of their neck muscles and understanding of turning their head to breath and using their arms at the same time. Children are amazing when taught at a young age.

Every child who lives around water especially in Florida, Arizona the two leading states in drowning should be as comfortable in the water as this 2 year old learning Rhythmic Breathing.  For more information on water safety, all levels of swim instruction please contact Baby Otter Swim School and follow us on face book at www.facebook.com/babyotterswimschool. You can also follow us on Twitter, at twitter.com/babyotterswim.



July 4th is a great time to celebrate our nation’s independence, but it’s also one of the deadliest holidays for drownings. As millions of families head to the backyard for BBQ with friends and family, the fast pace, the fireworks and the festive atmosphere can distract parents from their most important duty: supervising their child. It’s easy to remember basic fire safety on the fourth, but don’t forget the importance of water safety.

Parents must communicate and establish when they will be watching each child. Dads need to remember that a few minutes at the BBQ may seem like a short time, but drownings occur in seconds, and if he’s focused on grilling the meat, he might not notice a tragedy about to unfold in the pool Remember, drownings occur in all types of pools, from traditional concrete underground pools to the plastic kiddie pools that are often sold at large retail stores. While a plastic or inflatable pool might seem like a safe alternative, remember, a child can drown at any depth, even as shallow as the 18″ hard plastic pools.

A recent article in the Poughkeepsie Journal titled, “”Portable pools pose hazard for toddlers“, revealed some startling statistics. According to the article:

“About two dozen children each year drown in portable pools, according to a study published Monday in Pediatrics. Nearly all are under 5.”

Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. told the Poughkeepsie Journal that the portable pools aren’t typically required to meet any local safety standards. Meri-K Appy, president of Safe Kids USA told the Journal that plastic pools pose a unique risk and Appy said:

“When supervising kids in the water, Appy said, caregivers need to give children their full attention.”

At Baby Otter Swim School, our mission is to prevent as many drownings as possible through our programs, including our infant swimming classes and our swimming lessons for children. For more information about our programs, visit babyotterswimchool.com or to enroll your child in a course, call 888-SWIM-KID. We also offer lessons for adults and swimmers of any age.




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