Half of US Kids Can't Swim
Drowning tragedy highlights our poor water skills
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2010 3:27 PM CDT
Family members react as Shreveport Fire Department and Caddo Sheriff's deputies scour the beach at Charles and Marie Hamel Memorial Park in Shreveport, La.   (AP Photo/The Shreveport Times, Douglas Collier)
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(Newser) – The tragic drowning of 6 teens in Louisiana happened because the victims and a handful of bystanders all lacked the ability to swim. They're not alone: a full 37% of adult Americans told a CDC study that they couldn't swim the standard lap of 24 yards. A separate University of Memphis study found that about half of American children can't make it out of the shallow end, Slate reports.

The teens in Louisiana were African-American, the demographic the Memphis study found to have the fewest strong swimmers (31%). Economic status also plays a role: a child's ability to swim correlates with the income of his parents—only 29% of skilled swimmers come from families that make less than $49,999 a year.