Black People Can’t Swim – Is It True?

A common stereotype about black people is that they can’t swim! We did a series of tests with people of all races to prove once and for all if the worst swimmers are black. Find out if it’s true in this weeks episode!


4 responses to “Black People Can’t Swim – Is It True?”

  1. The notion that black people can not swim to offensive and false. I am a black person and I current hold several records in the 100 and 50 meter freestyle. If there were more pools in black communities there would be more black swimmers.

  2. Of course black people can swim, if they learn to, they just can’t swim as well as white people in general, or as well as Asians for that matter. A quick look at the line-up in any, and all, Olympic swimming finals will confirm that this is so. Compare that to the line-up in any track and field event. Track and field line-ups are predominantly black with a smattering of white people. Swimming is even more predominantly white people with very few black people.

    But why is it so?
    Is it Nature or Nurture?

    The Nurture arguments holds that blacks can’t swim because they come from lower socioeconomic areas and swimming requires expensive purpose built facilities and training. That argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. There are a lot of wealthy black people in America and around the world and even in countries that are predominantly black there best swimmers can’t compete at international levels. As to the cost and the facilities, there are many sports that require expensive purpose facilities and professional training if you are to rise to the top and black people excel in many of these. Sports like basket ball, tennis, football, and even running track (they aren’t cheap to build and they require a lot of land), The Williams sisters have dominated world tennis for some time. Sure you can go running on the street but you can go swimming in the local pool, the river, the lake, or in the sea. To play tennis you need access to a tennis court and to be really good you need good coaches. American colleges help athletes to excel in sports they are good at – track field, football, etc and they have fostered many black athletes in these activities; it doesn’t seem likely they would be discriminating against black athletes in swimming.

    That leaves Nature as the only reason left standing.
    Black people are said to have denser bones and muscles than white people making them less buoyant. They also naturally have less body fat, at least the fit ones have less, also making them less buoyant but also meaning they have less insulation in the water which may cause their muscles to chill faster and lose power.
    That’s all the explanation that’s needed, it explains the observed reality . Black people then are worse swimmers than whites for the same reasons they are better at track and field, it’s in their biology.

    Some black people are undoubtedly very good swimmers, better than most whites and most Asians, but their just not as good as the best Whites and Asians. The swimming ability Bell curve is for black people shifted a little to the left but for track and field it’s shifted a little to the right.

    You can’t have everything, everything comes at a cost, when you gain in one area you lose in another, that’s the nature of life, it’s how the universe works. Personally I would rather have darker skin and not have to worry about the sun and be better at running, jumping, climbing, and hitting then to be lighter with more body fat and be a better swimmer in the water. Unless you’re planning on falling overboard from a cruise ship one day track and field potential is of more utility in day to day life.

    1. @Ben, A little knowledge is a dangerous thing..

    2. Exactly right, just like the Turkish Van cat, “The Swimming Cat” that evolved to swim in the waters of Lake Van in Turkey (hence the name of the breed), a swimming human, in some prehistoric environment had an evolutionary advantage, and so those early White people didn’t “learn” to swim, but rather those who couldn’t swim drown, and thus were removed from the gene pool. Whites are better at swimming than Blacks in the same way that Whites are milk drinkers, Blacks are not. It’s biology, in the case of Lactose Intolerance, it’s a genetic quirk of the White race that makes drinking milk an option, and any creature that has access to a food source that another doesn’t (Darwin’s finches) will do better and outbreed those that don’t. Until we live in WaterWorld this swimming advantage is not really more “adaptive” than not being able to swim. But in an ancient world, it was for some reason.

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