Virginia Beach, Va. (WAVY) — Swimming is a common way to cool off at the beach or a pool and a nice way to relax while on vacation, but it can also be dangerous.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, there were two separate drownings reported in Virginia Beach.

Sam Caballero is the founder of Swim with Sam and provides swim classes for all ages, including an introductory adult swimming class, across Hampton Roads.

She created an adult swim class, specifically for people of color, who don’t feel comfortable in the water.
“We are helping our black families learn how to overcome their fear of the water and actually master it for the first time in their life.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports drowning rates for Black people are disproportionately higher than for white people. This is a result of systemic racism throughout American history.

“Knowing how to swim, not only builds our confidence! [It] helps us to not drown and live a life that is open to new things that we never thought of!”

Participants of a Y-USA survey report Black parents are 1.6 times more likely to have low confidence in water activities. The survey shows nearly 60% of Black parents have negative thoughts toward waterways like beaches and 40% have negative ideas about pools.

“The hardest thing to see sometimes is when we are all in a group setting and we are the ones sitting outside of the pool,” explains Caballero. “Our black children are the ones in the shallow end with the life jackets, that the feel set apart because they don’t know how to swim.”

Caballero is a full-time swim instructor and travels throughout the community. She wants hopes to break down aquatic fears and provide life-saving skills.

“We don’t need to feel set apart anymore,” she said. “This is our lifestyle too and it’s normal to us.”