In a recent report,USA Swimming stressed that 70 percent of African-American children and 58 percent of Hispanic children have little or no ability to swim, despite many recent advocacy efforts to increase awareness of its importance. In contrast, only 40 percent of Caucasian kids lack swim skills.

Interviews with parents and children in several urban areas cited the parents’ fear of the water as the biggest hurdle for swimming proficiency among inner-city kids. The economic crisis also has contributed to the continuing problem, which has forced many pools to cut hours or close altogether.

"The findings from this study reinforce the importance of raising awareness about learning to swim as a life-saving skill," said Chris LaBianco, Chief Development Officer of the USA Swimming Foundation, in a press release. "The USA Swimming Foundation, Cullen Jones and Make a Splash are continuing to spread this message to parents and kids at the grassroots level in cities across America. We are also working with hundreds of partner programs to offer low and no cost lessons to families in need. We are hopeful that together we can save lives and reduce the drowning rates."