Scripps News Life


Black entrepreneur teaches swim lessons to change disparity

Black children ages 10-14 drown at rates seven times higher than White children. Natasha Foreman is working to change that.
Posted at 11:22 AM, Aug 07, 2023

Swimming wasn't exactly a childhood rite of passage for Natasha Foreman.

"We were afraid of the water. My mom was afraid of the water. No one could swim," she recalled.

At 30 years old, she dove right in, taking lessons from a colleague and developing a love of water. Soon she became a swim coach but noticed something along the way.

"Just being in environments where there are little to no Black and brown children in the pool learning to swim, and me being the only Black or brown coach in the water teaching other children to swim, I wanted to support my culture," Foreman told Scripps News.

Combining her love of youth and swimming, she launched Natasha's Nurturing Nest, offering full-time nannying and swim lessons, which she does at a discount. She also uses community pools for the lessons, eliminating the need to own a pool.

"Doggy paddling is what parents consider knowing how to swim, but actually your child doesn't know how to swim unless they know how to save themselves in the water," Foreman said.

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Drowning is the leading cause of death for all kids between the ages of 1 and 4. However, Black children ages 10-14 drown at rates seven times higher than White children, according to the CDC.

While Black people have made strides in the competitive swimming world, 64% of Black children have low to no swimming ability compared to 40% of White children. There are many reasons, like the early segregation of pools.

"Systemic racism, lack of affordability, which is why I price my lessons like I did," Foreman explained.

Mom Teidra Everett says she enrolled her kids to help break that pattern of fear.

"I didn't learn until I was 10," Everett recalled. "And kids are so resistant and the earlier on they learn something that's scary, the quicker they'll get over that fear."

Foreman says seeing that nervousness wash away is something she's proud of.

"There's already a stereotype that Black people don't know how to swim," she said. "It's gratifying that I have challenged myself to learn this skill that I am able to teach to children, even adults,  if I had to overcome that myth."