Brandon Bass, 28, is a top athlete. He starred in college at Louisiana Tech and is entering his third season at power forward for the Boston Celtics. But there’s at least one thing that his athletic prowess didn’t allow him to do: swim.
"My son’s the first one in the family to learn how to swim," Bass told the Boston Globe. "If you threw me out in the ocean, I would drown."
Bass and his family grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana without a real place to swim. When he was a kid, a neighbor who was his age drowned, and the memory stuck with him. Now, he’s conquering his fears by volunteering with 10 young children at the Boston Boys and Girls Club who are all learning how to swim. Like the kids, Bass is afraid.
"I’m nervous, because I don’t know how to float," he told the Globe. "I can’t tread water."
Bass’ situation isn’t unique. According to a report released in 2008, 60 percent of black children can’t swim. In his book "Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America" author Jeff Wiltse writes about how municipal swimming pools were often segregated during mid-20th century when swimming became a popular recreational activity in the United States. The impact of those policies are still being felt by people like Bass, who grew up in communities where virtually no one swam.
Here’s video from Bass’ first swim lesson.
(h/t Bleacher Report)