A study released by the USA Swimming Foundation revealed that 64 percent of Black children don’t know how to swim. Furthermore, 79 percent of children who come from low-income families are at risk of drowning because they lack swimming skills. Olympic swimmer Simone Manuel is aiming to change that narrative and save more lives. Manuel recently visited LeBron James’ I Promise School in Akron, Ohio to talk with students about water safety and encourage them to learn how to swim, SwimSwam reported.
The school—which opened its doors last year—was designed to provide at-risk youth with a quality education. Manuel’s visit was in partnership with the Akron Area YMCA and the USA Swimming Foundation. The foundation plans on providing students at the school with free swimming lessons in June 2019. After visiting the school, Manuel took to Instagram to share her excitement about making an impact in the lives of these children. “My heart is happy and filled with joy! So honored to visit I Promise School to share my experience and talk about water safety and the importance of learning to swim!” she posted. “Many thanks to @usaswimming foundation and @akronareaymca for partnering with me to provide swim lessons at a week long camp in June 2019 for every student! Working to change the statistic and give the life saving gift of swimming.”
She has continually used her platform to spread awareness about the high drowning rate within the Black community and is working hard to reverse the alarming trend. “The most important thing is saving lives more than winning gold medals. Representation is important,” she told the Mercury News after competing in the Olympics.
Manuel has broken barriers in the realm of sports. In 2016, she became the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic medal in swimming. Through her work with the USA Swimming Foundation, she’s inspiring Black and brown children to follow in her footsteps.