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Watch 'Free Swim' - Documentary on the Paradox of Coastal People Not Knowing How to Swim

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act July 14, 2014 at 6:52PM

It documents the essence of daily life in a coastal region, avoiding both a romantic vision of island lifestyle and an overly academic approach to environmental and public health topics.
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Free Swim

Titled "Free Swim," the award winning verite style documentary isn't solely interested in tackling the seemingly age-old myth that black people can't swim, but instead it zooms into the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, and follows a group of local kids who, with fresh memories of a friend who drowned, as well as the conflicts of growing tourism, overcome their fears, and gain the confidence to fully reconnect with their environment, by learning how to swim in open waters.

For these kids, it’s not just about learning how to float, but also gaining new awareness, as well as necessary skills that could be of significance in the future.

Unpacking the paradox of a coastal people not knowing how to swim, the film was directed by Jennifer Galvin. She shares her motivations for making the film immediately below:

  • "Free Swim" grew out of personal adventures and public health work with coastal people around the world. I became aware of a paradox: many people, young and old, who live surrounded by water, do not know how to swim. Having grown up in the U.S. on Long Island, N.Y., I was aware of the questions about minorities and the swimming gap and had wondered why some kids in my neighborhood didn’t know how to swim. Digging through the public health literature it was astonishing to learn that drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children globally. Looking closer, in the U.S. about 60% of ethnically diverse children are unable to swim and African-American children drown at three times the rate of Caucasian children. As a doctor with a degree in public health and environmental science, specializing in water and health, the more I learned about the struggling efforts to break this cycle, the more I wanted to give this topic a voice, especially regarding islanders who rely on the ocean directly, every day.

Read the rest here, and then watch the international film festival-played, multiple award-winning 50-minute documentary below:

This article is related to: Jennifer Galvin


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