Minnesota could be the first state in the nation to require swimming lessons in public schools, if a new set of bills pass. The bills, HF 2113 and its counterpart SF 1825, are sponsored by Minneapolis DFL lawmakers, State Rep. Karen Clark and State Sen. Jeff Hayden and come during a time of increased concern over youths drowning.
Earlier this year, Abdullahi Charif, 12, of St. Louis Park here in Minnesota was found dead at the bottom of his school’s pool. Similarly, Frederick Ndereimana, age 19, of Fargo South High School was found unconscious in the deep end of the school’s pool during a PE class and died in the hospital 18 days later.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of ten people die each day in the US from unintentional drowning – two of the ten are children age 14 and under.
Of particular concern to our Minnesota lawmakers is providing swim instruction to minorities, who are statistically less likely to know how to swim and more likely to drown.
The USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis report that 70% of African-American and 60% of Hispanic/Latino children cannot swim. And according to the CDC, African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers
On April 22nd, Rep. Karen Clark and Hannah Lieder, board chair of the nonprofit Minneapolis Swims, met with the House Education Policy Committee for an informational hearing regarding HF 2113. “Swimming lessons for children in Minnesota are issues of wellness, civil rights and survival,” Clark said. “The drowning levels that we experience are just unacceptable.”

As stated in the bills, schools without a pool or without one within 10 miles, would be at least required to teach basic water safety, kick practice, and dry land strokes. Schools with a pool would be required to teach swimming lessons.

As summer heats up and the water looks increasingly enticing, it’s a great time to ask the question, “Do I really know how to swim?” According to a recent survey conducted for the American Red Cross, 54% of Americans cannot swim or lack certain swimming survival skills that the Red Cross considers basic, and only 56% of those who think they can swim actually have those skills.

If you are interested in taking swimming lessons or enrolling your kid in lessons,
checkout our roundup of best swim schools in Minnesota.