NEWS | Blacks Can’t Swim – The New Film Addressing A Shocking Statistic

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According to figures from Sport England, 95% of black people are unable to swim and only 1% of competitive swimmers are BAME. As a mixed race diver, regular pool and open water swimmer, these figures shocked me, so I set out to learn more. I found out about a new film documentary and the Black Swimming Association, who aim to advocate for people of colour in aquatics.

Blacks can't swim

After digging a little bit deeper I found out that cultural myths surrounding swimming are rampant amongst the black population, from beliefs about greater bone density through to under-representation, fueling a feeling of alienation amongst BAME people.

It’s a fact that Afro hair is typically dry, porous and delicate and chlorinated pool water is a much bigger deal for us than for those with Caucasian hair, but with more of us choosing to wear our hair natural these days, hair type and a few old wives tales alone can’t be enough to be stopping so many black people from hitting the pool, surely?

Blacks Can’t Swim – The Sequel

The second feature film documentary by Ed Accura combines acting with real interview footage of 14-25 year olds from the Black community voicing their thoughts on why their generation does not swim.

The story follows two Black youths (Layla and K-Frost) from a gritty south London council estate, who are part of a music and sports-based community program designed to help give young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds a better chance in life. But, to complete this program which opens doors to a world of opportunities they must learn to swim.

Blacks Can't Swim

Frank (Ed Accura), who will be acting as a mentor, based on his real-life issues with swimming, faces the huge challenge of getting these two young adults to attempt to get into the water.  With only two weeks, will he succeed? And will he ever get to the bottom of why Layla and K-Frost refuse to swim in the first place?

Ed strongly believes that Black youth culture could be the turning point and answer to this generation’s long-term issue with the disproportionate number of Black people who do not swim.

Aquaphobia in Black parents

Ed goes on to state; Aquaphobia still persists in many Black parents who didn’t get the opportunity to learn the skill and who still believe it’s safer to stay away from the water than to learn how to swim.”

“There comes a point where this generational cycle has to be broken and that time is now.”

Blacks Can't Swim
Members of the black community discus their views on swimming

Ed is also co-founder of the Black Swimming Association (BSA), which was set up in March this year to champion inclusivity, representation and diversity in aquatics; highlighting the value of swimming as an essential life-saving skill and showcasing aquatic opportunities and pathways which will otherwise be invisible to Black communities.

Danielle Obe, Interim CEO for the BSA, said: “Blacks Can’t Swim The Sequel” is an accurate representation of the barriers the Black community face when it comes to swimming, whether that stems from an inherited cultural belief, or simply not having the access, knowledge or confidence they need to get in the pool. It’s time we broke down those barriers, and the BSA is proud to be the first organisation of its kind to tackle this issue head-on.

“With support from the aquatic governing bodies, we can diversify the sport that saves lives and make positive change. This includes more representation for Black people at all levels in the sport, from the board room to the swimming pool, and making water safety, life-saving and drowning prevention skills accessible for Black communities everywhere.”

Blacks Can’t Swim The Sequel, is scheduled for a global release in May 2021.

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Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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