Letter to Swim culture
Following on from my Letter to the world highlighting how Black youth culture could be the catalyst to how the Black community engages with anything aquatic, here is a high-level letter to Swim Culture, together with the official teaser trailer to the second feature film documentary from the Blacks Can’t Swim franchise, Blacks Can’t Swim The Sequel
My mother doesn’t swim, her mother didn’t swim, my great grandmother didn’t swim and I’m only now learning to swim. This may not be typical of every Black family, but based on the disproportionate amount of Black people not swimming on a global scale, it must have some relevance.
I made some recommendations through audio-visual aids, Think About It, I won’t Swim, and the announcement The Sequel on how we could achieve this by focusing on the aquatic career pathway.
In all honesty, I think it’s safe to say that swimming as a life-skill alone may never be a reason for there to be an uptake within the black community and the evidence is in the 95% of Black adults and 80% of Black children in England that do not swim.
For the purpose of my recommendation, I will split the Black non-swimming community into 3 distinct age groups,
under 16 years old (most likely not swimming because the parents are part of the 95% that don’t swim),
16-25-year old’s (who will become the focus group for this campaign)
over 26-year-olds (The group most unlikely to learn to swim) I personally spent most of my life sitting comfortably in this group and unashamedly wore it like a badge of honour. Of course, I can’t swim, I’m Black I would say!
So, going back to my focus group, the 16-25-year-olds, learning how to swim with a career in sight may be just what it takes to change the narrative, but there are a number of behaviours that have to be addressed.
We conducted a short online survey to get a snapshot of swimming within the Black community and included participants from various economic backgrounds with the only thing in common being their ethnicity.
For the purpose of the project, we focused on the 250 respondents representing the under 16 and 16-25 categories. 25.5% said they didn’t swim and 80% of those that said they could swim quoted rarely or never as their frequency of swimming. Almost every one of the participants acknowledged swimming as a life skill.
The most common reasons given for not swimming in no particular order included that it is not interesting, not relatable to black culture, parents don’t swim, friends don’t swim, not as inviting as other sports, fear of drowning, hair issues, and body issues.
One thing that really interested me was the answer to the question “With training and a job option, would you consider a career in aquatics such as a coach or lifeguard?” 17.5% answered yes and a further 28% responded maybe.
This supports my theory that making swimming welcoming, relatable, and financially viable to black youth culture could be what changes the narrative.
During the filming of The Sequel, there was a swimming pool scene that was met with some resistance. The scene was to be filmed in a swimming pool to the reluctance of most of the cast, even those that said they could swim. We turned the issue around by creating a relatable atmosphere, got everyone in the mood, and into the pool where we filmed the scenes. I ended up having to request extra pool time, not because we were running behind schedule but because the cast was having so much fun in the water they didn’t want to get out.
A few weeks ago, one of the crew asked me when we were going to do it again.
So, let’s review some of the obvious benefits.
Create career opportunities
Create role models for present and future generations
Make swimming a priority within the Black community
Make swimming relatable, enjoyable, and exciting and we stand a higher chance of swimming and fewer drownings.
Thank you for the continuous support and all the best in 2021.
Please leave your thoughts and ideas below