What a Weird Summer it Was….

Back here in the East, the summer of 2009 was one of the coldest and wettest on record.
All over the country, way too many drownings occurred, particularly to young children.

Then, after electing our first African-American President and thinking racism must certainly be receding, along comes this country club in suburban Philly
(in my home state), kicking a African-American children’s camp out of their pool. Right out of the 60’s!!!

I began my aquatic career back in those racist days. I first worked as a beach boy at a “whites only” lake in Northern, NJ. Later I worked as a lifeguard and swim coach at a club that didn’t allow Arthur Ashe, the Wimbledon Champion to warm up on our clay tennis courts prior to a match. Fortunately for me, I attended a private school in the Bronx, NYC that was very diverse. During the 60’s and 70’s, I read and was told that blacks could not swim for a variety of reasons: physiology, psychology, sociology, etc. Actually, African-Americans as it turned out just were not given the opportunity.

What saved the summer of 2009 for me was a recent trip to Prince Georges County, MD to visit 10 aquatic facilities maintained by the Maryland-Capital Park and Planning Commission. Tara Eggleston was the Aquatic Director who served as my hostess. I spent two full days observing and auditing her pools and was very pleasantly surprised and enlightened. I watched hundreds of African Americans truly enjoying all aspects of aquatics with no whites in sight. Beautiful little black children taking swimming lessons from black instructors, black women taking Aquacize from black instructors, professional black lifeguards watching all water activities and being supervised by black managers. The administrators by the way were African-American as well. And every one I met greeted me with open-arms, a smiling face and welcoming words. For the record, African-Americans CAN swim, DO swim and really enjoy the water. The lifeguards were extremely vigilant and professional as well. TheMaryland trip was one of the most refreshing and enlightening aquatic experiences I have ever had and came just at the right moment. Thanks Tara, I needed that!

On another note, we need to teach EVERY child to swim before they reach middle-school.
If children are under the age of seven and cannot swim, we need to Note and Float them in a type III PFD in all our facilities.
This is the best 1-2 punch to prevent drownings.

Views: 23


You need to be a member of AI Connect to add comments!

Join AI Connect

Comment by Tara Eggleston on September 7, 2010 at 6:18pm
Hi Tom! Wow! Thanks so much for your kind words regarding our Aquatics program in Prince George's County! I know I'm late on my comments, but I just stumbled upon your post while surfing the web! We had a great summer season this year, renovated 3 outdoor pools and (most importantly) managed to keep patrons and staff safe! We truly appreciate your support and hope to see you again soon!
Comment by glenn pang on April 27, 2010 at 8:57am
I don't follow you? Please explain your comment about ......life jackets should be the standard of care for children who can't swim?
Comment by Tom Griffiths on April 27, 2010 at 3:59am
Good Point. Here at the National Drowning Prevention Symposium in Pittsburgh, we are all motivated to stop preventable drownings. We all keep talking about improving parental supervision but with parents constantly texting and talking while driving their kids around town, I fear supervision around the water is only going to decrease in the future. We've borrowed the ring buoy from the Coast Guard to place around pools, we've borrowed the Shepherds's Crook from the Shepherd's, now we need to move the lifejackets into the swimming pools to protect pools before we teach them how to swim. Lifejackets should be the standard of care for all children who cannot swim. We need to change water safety culture in order to save lives
Comment by glenn pang on April 26, 2010 at 1:04pm
Hi Tom,
This is so true that every child should learn to swim before reaching middle school, but the sad fact is that many of today youth don't know how to swim or even had the opportunity to be introduce to a water safety class because they couldn't afford it or no one in their area was offering any type of water safety program.

You my notice I used the term "water safety program" because even if a youth don't achieved the skills to swim, hopefully they leave the program with the knowledge on water safety skills and some basic personal water safety skills
Comment by Dewey Case on August 26, 2009 at 1:42pm
"Actually, African-Americans as it turned out just were not given the opportunity."

Absolutley correct. Now we just need the facilities, and the political will, to incorporate learn to swim classes at the grade school level.
Comment by Terri Smith on August 21, 2009 at 12:33pm
I personally believe that the ability to swim doesn't lie with a person's skin color, but the socio-econmomical envrionment with which they are raised. If a child doesn't have the opportunity to learn to swim, it may be because they can't afford it, not because their skin is a certain color.
As far as that ridiculous country club....I agree, right out of the 60's....kind of like Augusta not allowing women to be a member at their "men's only" club....right out the 60's indeed.

© 2019   Created by AI Connect.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service