Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

June 2021


YMCA Examines Generational, Racial Inequities in Water Safety Education

YMCA of the USA released new data that highlights the personal experiences and barriers parents face when it comes to swimming and water safety. The data, collected from a diverse set of U.S. parents, including black, LatinX/Hispanic and other population segments, shows that nine in 10 parents see swimming as a key life skill for children—on par with first aid skills and the ability to prepare a meal. A deeper dive uncovers the impact of unique generational and racial inequities when it comes to ensuring all parents and children are safe and confidence around water, whether it's at the pool or waterpark, or on the beach.

According to the CDC, drowning rates for black people are disproportionately higher than that of white people across all age groups, a rate that has remained largely unchanged. Additionally, according to a national research study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation with the University of Memphis and University of Nevada-Las Vegas, 60% of African-American children and 45% of Hispanic children cannot swim, compared to 40% of Caucasian children.

New data from Y-USA underscores that, while affordability and accessibility are major barriers for parents across racial and ethnic backgrounds, black parents surveyed are more likely than other U.S. parents surveyed to associate bodies of water and water activities with negative feelings, including caution, anxiety and fear.

The Y-USA survey also found that while a majority of parents show interest in signing up for water safety programs, one in two parents believe water safety classes are expensive, and nearly three in 10 (32%) state that water safety isn't a priority due to affordability concerns. This concern around affordability is especially high among LatinX/Hispanic parents (36%) in comparison to other groups, including black parents and a segmentation of the U.S. parent population surveyed.

Black parents are 1.6 times more likely, in comparison with the general U.S. parent population surveyed, to report having low confidence with water or water activities. This corresponds with supporting data that 44% of black parents self-report to have only beginner or no swimming abilities, a nearly 20 percentage point difference in comparison to the overall U.S. parent population and subset of LatinX/Hispanic parents surveyed.

Nine in 10 U.S. parents see swimming as a key life skill for children. Black parents surveyed are less likely to encourage their children's participation in water activities. Nearly 60% of black parents have negative associations toward lakes, rivers, beaches or the ocean, and 40% have negative sentiments toward pools.

Parents also rank swimming and water safety skills as more important than being proficient in STEM, arts and music, team sports or wilderness survival.

"We know from the USA Swimming Foundation that if a parent does not know how to swim, there is only a 13% chance that their child will learn how to swim. However, we must analyze this data point in the context of American history," said Lindsay Mondick, director of innovative priorities at YMCA of the USA. "There is a history of exclusion associated with swimming pools, in particular, that has contributed to some of the racial inequalities we see in data associated with drownings. With a footprint as significant as the Y's, it is our responsibility to help break down those barriers and engage in these conversations to ultimately address the impact of these inequities, including fears, stressors and behaviors that black and LatinX/Hispanic adults in particular have with water."

The Y offers two programs intended to help children have fun, be confidence and stay safe in the water, including swim lessons from 6 months to adults, and a specific drowning prevention class.


Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Child Drownings Remain High - June 2021

CPSC Announces $2 Million in Grants Available to Help Prevent Drowning, Entrapment - June 2021

10th Annual ParkScore Index Names Washington, D.C., Best City Park System - June 2021

ACE, WIFA Launch Opportunity to Support Women in Fitness - June 2021

$150 Million in Grants Will Create Parks, Expand Recreation Opportunities - May 2021

CPSC Awards More Than $860,000 in Pool Safely Grants - May 2021

Leading Aquatic Organizations Champion Water Safety - May 2021

Keep America Beautiful Releases Study on Litter in America - May 2021

Outdoor Industry Association Paints Picture of the New Outdoor Participant - April 2021

NRPA Introduces New Resource Aimed at Eliminating Health Inequities - April 2021

ULI Report: Pandemic Led to Innovation in the Public Realm - April 2021

Nation's Pediatricians Provide New Guidance on Summer Camp Safety - April 2021

Grants Invest in Community Trail Projects - March 2021

Research Supports Safe Camp Operations During Pandemic - March 2021

USA Swimming Distributes Community Impact Grants - March 2021

Research Uncovers What Consumers Need to Return to Gyms - March 2021

Study Details Hard-Hitting Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Attractions Industry - March 2021

Outdoor Participation Up Significantly, Says Topline Data From Outdoor Foundation - February 2021

USA Swimming Awards Funds to Local Swimming Committees - February 2021

NGWSD Celebrates Girls & Women in Sports - February 2021

Organizations Lodge Opposition to Last-Minute LWCF Changes - February 2021

Parks & Rec Pros Serve Essential Mentorship Role - January 2021

USA Swimming, U.S. Masters Swimming Partner to Support Learn-to-Swim - January 2021

Online Training Tops 2021 Fitness Trends, Says ACSM - January 2021

New Appropriations Act Boosts City Park Funding - January 2021

Trust for Public Land Ranks Boise No. 1 for Dog Parks - December 2020

USA Swimming Recognizes Top-Performing Clubs - December 2020

Pediatricians Update Youth Sports Guidance, Recommend Face Coverings at All Times - December 2020

ACA Grant Program Aims to Promote Access and Inclusion at Camp - December 2020

2020 Voters Approve $3.7 Billion for Parks & Public Lands - November 2020

Study Highlights Parks & Rec's Role in Youth Sports - November 2020

Grants Available for Swim Lesson Providers - November 2020

Sports Medicine Experts to Address COVID-19 and Athlete Care - November 2020

Study Shows Americans Miss the Gym - November 2020

City Parks Alliance Launches Park Funding Hub - October 2020

Pool Safely's New PSA Focuses on Child Drowning Prevention - October 2020

U.S. Reps File Health & Fitness Recovery Act - October 2020

IHRSA Foundation, ACE Aim to Improve Exercise Inclusion for People With Intellectual Disability - October 2020

NRPA Survey: U.S. Adults Say Parks & Rec Is Essential - September 2020

Effective Date for Drain Cover Standard Delayed - September 2020

ACE Urges Governments to Open Parks & Public Spaces for In-Person Fitness - September 2020

CDC Study Examines Successful Overnight Camp Strategies from 2020 - September 2020

Before Pandemic, Fitness Was Hot, SFIA Report Says - August 2020

Data Reveals Racial Disparity in Park Access - August 2020

USA Swimming Waives Swim-a-Thon Fees Through 2021 - August 2020

ACE Urges Congress to Pass COVID-19 Youth Sports & Health Working Families Relief Act - August 2020

Nation's Pediatricians Offer Advice on Return to Youth Sports - August 2020

Congress Fully Funds LWCF With Passage of Great American Outdoors Act - July 2020

AOAP's Aquatics Professional Designation Certified by CMAHC - July 2020

Fitness Participation Up in U.S. - July 2020

KaBOOM! Taskforce Offers Guidance on Playground Reopening - July 2020

Congress Nears Full, Permanent Funding of LWCF - June 2020

More Cities Join Effort to Reimagine Public Spaces - June 2020

CPSC Finds Steady Rise in Fatal Child Drownings - June 2020

NFHS Offers Guidance on Restarting High School Athletics, Activities - June 2020

YMCA, American Camp Association Release Guide to Support Summer Camp Safety - June 2020