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
Half of US Kids Can't Swim
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)

(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.
(Read more Louisiana stories.)

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