If you aren’t familiar with the statistics in the UK, 95% of Black adults and 80% of Black children don’t swim. 25% of Black children leave primary school unable to swim, and only 1% of Swim England competitive swimmers are Black or mixed race.
The reasons why people from Black and other ethnic minority communities can’t or don’t swim are many and complicated. We can obviously only go into so much detail in the hour we chatted for this podcast. But Ed goes into a lot more depth in his podcast In The Deep End and I recommend you go and give it a listen to learn more
But some of the issues include
- Low or no expectations of Black children to swim
- Negative messages and stereotypes such as misconceptions that Black people have heavier bones or cannot float
- Parent’s views, many of whom never learnt to swim themselves
- Access to pools, to swimming lessons and to opportunities to learn to swim
- Whether it is something your mates are doing
- Your experiences growing up
- Class and poverty play a big part
- Skin and hair differences and the lack of easy access to protective products to overcome this
The Black Swimming Association has a DIPER charter that anyone in support can sign up to. It stands for
Representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in aquatics.
And it is so much more than swimming. Being a non-swimmer more or less excludes you from a whole host of other activities too, such as kayaking, body boarding, surfing, rowing, canoeing and more.
Ed’s work, alongside his fellow BSA co-founders, is vital, exciting and everyone in the wild swimming community can get behind it.
My asks after you listen to this episode are
- Watch the film
- Listen to Ed’s podcast
- Listen to Seren Jones’ BBC documentary ‘Black girls don’t swim’
- Visit the BSA and give them some support
Things we talk about you will want to go and learn more about
A Film Called Blacks Can’t Swim, Alice Dearing, In The Deep End podcast, the sequel to A Film Called Blacks Can’t Swim, Seren Jones BBC documentary, Swimming Nature, Black Swimming Association, Danielle Obe and Nemes, Speedo sponsorship of the BSA, the survey Ed talks about, RLSS, Black Lives Matter, Swim England, Ed in his ‘other’ life as a musician!