NewsLocal NewsA Better Land


Cleveland swim coach André offers free lessons for people of all ages to face their swimming fears

Posted at 9:50 AM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 09:50:14-04

CLEVELAND — 3,500 people die in the water every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Take a closer look at those numbers and you'll find that Black children are more than five times more likely to drown in a pool than White children of the same age.

"Black folks swim, too,” Coach André said.

Coach André makes sure they can in a course called “Do it Afraid.” It’s an open invitation to anyone willing to learn how to swim, run through his business Rhythm and Stroke.

"My biggest fear was not knowing if I’d be able to breathe underwater,” said 12-year-old swimmer Lauryn.

In generations before Lauryn, the fear was deeper than that. Black people waded through troubled waters.

"We weren't allowed to go to certain swimming pools a long time ago," Pamela Young said.

Racism deferred Young's access to most public pools, so she never learned how to swim.

"Right, that's the way it was,” Young said.

Like an heirloom, the burden was passed down.

"African-Americans in the United States, we have the highest drowning rates of any groups,” Coach André said.

According to the YMCA, 64 percent of Black children can't swim. 40 percent of white children can't either. Even so, it doesn't stop many from getting in the pool— and consequentially drowning.

"Some of these instances are preventable if people just had a little knowledge of what to do,” Coach André said.

Coach Andre taught Young how to swim and now, she's making sure her grandkids know how too.

For information on the free swim lessons, call 216-309-2782 or click here.