Lifeguards in training

Lifeguards in training
I'm not sure about other parts of the world but in South Africa there's a myth that black people can't swim - which is why I was (rightly or wrongly) surprised when I saw the three black trainee lifeguards to the left of this photo.

Now, obviously it's just silly to generalize like that, and even though the myth isn't true I'd have to guess that it holds at least some merit and that a much higher percentage of white people, vs. black, are able to swim.

I'd love some perspective on this from any of our black readers, so please leave a comment below if you have an opinion on the subject.

10 thoughts on “Lifeguards in training

  1. Paul

    Post author

    I wouldn’t know Steffe – haven’t heard anything to that effect, but as for blue people, well, they don’t swim so well. That is, unless they’re Smurfs of course – but then again, I’m not sure if they do too well at swimming. :)

  2. Ali Schwarzer

    When I was in South Africa, I also learned that black people can’t swim. :D A colleague of my former internship office told me that a local black staff member fell one time in a pool and started screaming since he thought he’d drown. A very low risk: The pool is only knee-deep. *lol*

  3. Ali Schwarzer

    Even though I unfortunately only know breast stroke, I love to swim. Swimming instruction is usually a subject of (at least) elementary school’s schedules, so I think most people in Germany can swim.

  4. gpa

    If you grow-up where water is full of danger , like crocs and Hippo’s then learning to swim is not high on the list .if later you are confronted with this immense river called ocean ,then swinning is even lower on you wish list.

  5. Steve Crane

    It is undoubtedly a cultural/racial stereotype that may be based on fact but attributed to the wrong cause.

    I suspect that fewer South African blacks than whites being able to swim probably stems from access to swimming pools. As whites there is a good chance that our schools had swimmimg pools and swimming lessons were part of our school curriculum; or at the very least we had access to a local public swimming pool. The majority of blacks on the other hand would probably not have had access to school or public swimming pools prior to 1994 and recreational swimming would thus have been limited. Nothing to do with the mere fact of their being black, but rather circumstance forced on them by being black.

  6. Paul

    Post author

    Interestingly, my parents never had a swimmingpool, nor did the schools that I attended. We did however go to the beach, and on holiday to places that had pools. I vaguely also recall that one of my friends had a pool… I just can’t quite recall where I learned to swim.

    But still, you’re probably right though Steve – it probably has to do with access to pools. Also, in terms of the greater rural Africa, it’s not normally not a great idea to swim with crocodiles and hippos. :)

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