Take the plunge with FOX59’s Tanae Howard as she conquers her fear, learns to swim

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- You can take me on the highest roller coaster at top speeds, I love a good thrill, but when it comes to water, well we've never been able to get along.

I finally decided to stare fear in the face. After years of being the poolside friend who couldn't enjoy the water. I headed to the Community Healthplex for my first swim lesson.

As I began my own journey to conquer this life saving skill, I discovered I wasn't alone, especially among minorities.

According to the USA Swimming Foundation 70% of African American and 60% of Hispanic children cannot swim, compared to just 40% of Caucasian children. Black kids ages 5 to 14 are three times more likely to drown than their white peers.

"Not only is it a socioeconomic issue of having different children having access to pools and places to swim but it's also been a generational issue where going back two or three generations had even less access than those children have now," John Fero, YMCA Ransburg Aquatics Director said.

The YMCA Ransburg on Indy's east side wants to turn those numbers around. YMCA of the USA awarded 18,000 scholarships nationwide for free water safety and swim lessons. Kids with the Eastern Star Church summer camp were some of those recipients here in Indianapolis.

"Every child should know how to swim and be confident in the water. The confidence factor is overlooked but just as important as knowing how to be safe and swim," Fero said.

And that's exactly what I was lacking as an adult, confidence. But with each lesson I was inspired by other adult women in the pool cheering me on. First there was Stephanie Scott who was the opposite of what statistics say about the startling amount of African Americans who can't swim.

" I've been swimming since I was 11-years-old. We learned at riverside park. My mother was very adamant about us learning how to swim," Scott said.

Then I met Dianna Ferguson-Mosley. She started swim lessons just last year at 63-years-old.

"It was really an accomplishment because I didn't think that I would ever be able to swim because it was a little bit of fear in me," Ferguson-Mosley said.

Now she's even involved with getting her grandchildren swim lessons.

With each stroke, I kicked my fear of the water further behind me and moved closer to the reality that it is possible for me to learn how to swim and hopefully inspire other adults and kids to do the same.

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