MILWAUKEE — Adriana Tatum spent most of her childhood birthdays at waterparks because she loved the water.

Yet, growing up in Milwaukee's inner-city, she had never learned how to swim.

What You Need To Know

  • 64% of African-American children cannot swim

  • Riverside University High School working to bridge the racial swimmng gap

  • Learning to swim can mean the difference between life and death

"If you never had a pool to swim in. If you were never exposed to this, how would you know?" said Assistant Coach Priscella Smith. 

Determined to swim, Adriana joined the Riverside University High School. RUHS is a combined swim team with girls from Milwaukee High School of the Arts and Golda Meir.

Anne Koller is the head coach. Koller taught Adriana how to swim in August. Two weeks later, Adriana swam in her first swim meet.

"I'm not sure how, but I did it. It just makes me so happy. I can't explain the happiness it gives me," Tatum said.

According to a recent study conducted at YMCAs by the USA swimming foundation and the University of Memphis, 64% of black/African-American children cannot swim.

"We hear so many times of kids drowning, and I feel we must learn to swim, especially with the stereotype that we have, which is we don't swim," says Smith. 

The Riverside coaching staff's mission is to create a more diverse, inclusive swimming program that breaks down racial barriers in swimming.