Swim Lessons: Teaching My Black Girls to Swim


Swimming for Black Kids  

Swimming is important for ALL kids. But swimming is especially important for BLACK kids. As a mom of Black kids (who herself cannot swim), it is imperative that I gift my children this life saving skill. Did you know that, according to the CDC: 1. More children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death; and 2. For children ages 5–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes. And most striking of all, Black kids are the mostly likely group to suffer from these statistics. Isn’t that scary? The good thing is, we can do something about it. Check out this article to read a powerful story about the importance and the impact of learning to swim. 

Okay, now that we’ve talked about the why, let’s talk about the how. Because I know for many of us, the hardest part about adding another activity to our routine is managing our already hectic schedules. Managing pregnancy, my nine-to-five, two kids, a business, housework, and now swim classes…what was I thinking, right? Lol well the why was my motivation. This is too important not to figure out. And, I’ve created a system that works for us and works around our schedule. Here’s how we’re managing everything plus swimming. 

Our routine

1. Swim class is on Thursdays and Saturdays *I chose these days because I work from home on Thursdays and usually the whole family is home on Saturdays. 

Tip: choose your lightest days for swim class because it can take a lot of energy from both you and the kids. 

2. I pick up Fatima from daycare because she’s close to the house 

3. Then, we drive 35 minutes to pick up Diari together

4. I always pack snacks from home so the girls can snack in the car. I choose light snacks so that their bellies aren’t too full but they eat something

5. We drive the 25 minutes back towards our house to our swim school

6. When we arrive at the pool, the girls immediately change into their swimsuits and we jump in for fun! (I sit on the sidelines but you get what I mean lol)

7. After swim, we take a shower, style our hair and dress in our warm clothes 

*Sometimes I let the girls sit in the sauna for a couple minutes so they can warm up!

Our packing list

Packing for swim is actually one of the most stressful parts for me. I’m always worried about forgetting something. But I have a system! Here’s my packing list. 

  • One swimsuit for each 
  • Two towels
  • Shower gel and scrubbies for a shower 
  • Shampoo, leave-in conditioner, styling cream, hair oil
  • A change of clothes for each 
  • A warm sweater/jacket for each 

Our hair routine for swim 

One of the main reasons you hear from Black people that we don’t swim is because of our hair. We have a very special relationship with our hair and chlorine can be damaging to our crown. So I’m not going to act like that doesn’t matter. But, there are tips and tricks we can use that allow us to have safe swimming fun. I want my girls to feel free and enjoy swimming without worrying about their hair. So here’s our hair care routine for swim. 

1. Before they jump in, I spray leave-in conditioner in the girls’ hair and then put on their swim caps to protect their hair

2. After swim, I rinse the chlorine out of the girls’ hair during their shower 

3. Then, I apply oil to their scalp and styling cream to their braids or twists

4. If their hair needs to be retwisted or a braid comes loose, then I’ll do that 

*When their hair is not braided or twisted, I take special care to untie it, comb it out, get the oil and cream through their hair before tying it back up

The key to the hair routine is *the swim cap* and moisturizing after swim class. Yes, it is work. But it allows us to enjoy swimming and take care of our beautiful Black hair.

Swim Class Costs & Time

  • Swim class is 30 minutes 
  • Lessons are $250 per child a month for 2 classes a week for 30 minutes ($500 total)

 *Some swim schools offer free or reduced classes so don’t hesitate to search for a program that works for you.