MINNEAPOLIS - Most people learn to swim when they are children. They're taught how to float, how to crawl and some even learn a few tricks.
Then there are people like Larissa Rodriguez who didn't learn to swim until she was in her 40's.
"It was a little intimidating at first," she recalled.
She fought through the her fear and learned how to swim a year and half ago. She did it mainly because she was going on vacation to Bora Bora. While she learned how to freestyle, she also learned the harsh truth about who can and who can't swim.
"There's not always equal access to pools," she said.
In 2010, a USA Swimming report showed seven out of ten African Americans and almost six out of ten Hispanics have little, if any, swimming ability.
Those numbers haven't changed much.
"Minority children drown at up to 3.1 times the rate of white children," Hannah Lieder, founder of Minneapolis Swims, a non-profit which hopes to help all children swim, said.
Lieder said pool access, socioeconomics and sometimes culture are barriers for minoritiy communities when it comes to swimming.
She and Rodriguez are trying to turn things around.
The two are renovating an abandoned pool at the Phillips Community Center into a state-of-the-art learning facility. When it's completed it will be the only indoor public pool in Minneapolis, according to Lieder.
She hopes as more people learn to swim there will be fewer tragedies like the death of Jeffery Watson, 13, who died swimming in Lake Superior and Chiccena Carpenter, 16, who drowned at Cedar Lake. Both were African-American.
The number of drowning deaths in the state has already skyrocketed to 21 people, more than double last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. A department spokesperson couldn't say how many of the deaths were minorities. But still, Lieder believes it's an urgent issue.
"It's a huge public health issue that we believe has just fallen through the cracks," she warned.
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