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Lack of swim instructors increasing concern for pool safety

Nadine Ford told WCNC Charlotte many adults don't know how to swim because of traumatic experiences that happened when they were kids.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pools are open for the summer, but there's a push for water safety. Drowning rates are higher than expected, and a shortage of lifeguards and swim instructors isn't helping. 

You can find Nadine Ford on the deck a few days out of the week. She's been getting swimmers of all ages across the pool for years. For some, it's an easy-flowing idea, but for others, it's the opposite. 

“One in five Americans can not swim the length of the pool," Ford said.

Ford said she's making it a personal goal for her. 

“It’s a life skill," Ford said. "If you want to enjoy the planet -- which is 70% water -- if you want to enjoy the planet learn how to swim.” 

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Data from the CDC shows drowning death rates for American Indian people or Alaska Native people are two times higher than the rates for white people. In swimming pools, Black children ages 10-14 years drown at rates 7.6 times higher than white children. 

Ford also works with Evolutionary Aquatics, a nonprofit designed to get more minorities swimming, using history to break the stigma. 

"We teach the history of West Africans who were swimming and kayaking who were swimming to the bottom of the ocean," Ford said.

She said many adults don't know how to swim because of traumatic experiences that happened when they were kids. A shortage of swim instructors has made Ford's mission more complicated. 

“I have so many on a waitlist or a queue for kids and adults to take their swim lessons," Ford said.  

Contact Austin Walker at awalker@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

   

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