Thanks to a Hampton Roads Red Cross grant, Hampton
University is offering swim lessons to Newport News and
Hampton middle school students this summer. HU lifeguards
and Red Cross water safety instructors are teaching the
lessons, and bathing suit attire is provided for
The lessons are part of HU’s effort to involve
and mobilize the minority community about water safety.
“HU is reaching out to the community through
partnerships so that minorities will have the opportunity
to be exposed to water safety and structured swim
lessons,” said Jodi Jensen, HU assistant professor
and director of aquatics.
The fatal drowning rate of African American children
ages 5 to 14 is 3.2 times that of white children in the
same age range, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. The CDC also states factors such as
physical environment, like access to swimming pools, and a
combination of social and cultural issues, like valuing
swimming skills and choosing recreational water-related
activities, may contribute to the racial differences in
In Fall 2008, HU became the second historically black
college or university to offer a concentration in aquatics.
Alabama A&M University is the other. At HU, aquatics
is offered through the Department of Health, Physical
Education and Recreation. The summer lessons, in
HU’s Olympic sized pool in Holland Hall, fortify
the program’s purpose.
“It reinforces [our] goal by not only offering
aquatic opportunities to college students at HU,”
Jensen said, “but also to the