Everyone sees how athletic blacks are, for instance in football, but why don’t blacks like swimming? Black children drown at a rate almost three times higher than white children. 70 percent of black children can’t swim, compared to 60 percent of ‘Hispanic’ children and 40 percent of white children. A combination of genetic and environmental factors are involved in this.
JP Rushton writes in Race, Evolution and Behavior (pg. 163):
Body structure differences likely account for the differential success of blacks at sporting events. Blacks are disproportionately successful in sports involving running and jumping but not at all successful at sports such as swimming. For example in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, blacks won every men’s running race. On the other hand, no black swimmer has ever qualified for the U.S. Olympic swim team. The bone density differences mentioned above may be a handicap for swimming.
Rushton noted above this paragraph that there are bone density differences between blacks and whites which have been noted at all ages and skeletal sites, remaining even after controlling for body mass. These differences even appear before birth, prenatally. Divergence in length and width of the bones in black and white fetus is followed by greater weight of black infants in comparison to white infants. These skeletal differences in weight obviously persist into adulthood, which then have implications for blacks with swimming, but give them advantages in other sports.
At the time of the writing of Race, Evolution, and Behavior in 1997, no black had ever qualified for the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team. However, Anthony Ervin became the first black swimmer to qualify for the Olympic swim team in the year 2000. The fact that it took so long for a black swimmer to make the Olympic swim team shows a genetic component.
Also contributing to this phenomenon is the fact that blacks have narrower chest cavities along with heavier skeletons (as mentioned above), this makes it harder for blacks to stay afloat and swim in the water. A smaller chest cavity brings with it less mobility while doing strokes in the water in comparison to one with a wider chest cavity.
Hochberg (2007) notes that fracture risk, particularly hip fractures, in whites is higher than for blacks in both sexes at 10.1 and 4.1 percent for white and black women respectively while the percentage is 4.3 and 3.1 percent for white and black men respectively. Other analyses of people aged 65 to 90 show 16.3 and 5.3 percent in white and black women while the percentage is 5.5 and 2.6 percent for white and black men respectively. Why do white women suffer more fractures? When women hit menopause, the drop in estrogen coincides with bone loss and osteoperosis. Moreover, in 2010, the Food Surveys Research Group published Fluid Milk Consumption in the United States, which shows women drink less milk then men, with seniors drinking less milk than all age groups (pg. 4). We can then infer from this that senior white women drink less milk, which is then another cause for more hip fractures and weaker bones. Though, there is of course a genetic component with blacks having stronger bones. However, stronger bones means heavier bones, which is a disadvantage when it comes to swimming.
Another funnier reason for blacks non-ability for swimming is that since blacks have a higher single mother rate (72 percent) they didn’t take them to the pool and teach their kids how to swim because they “didn’t want to get their hair wet”, as they put so much time in their hair. This may contribute to this slightly, but the physiological and biological differences mentioned above contribute a far greater amount of variance.
Blacks also wouldn’t be good swimmers due to them having more type II muscle fibers than type I, meaning their muscles fire off quicker and therefore tire quicker. This is why blacks are good sprinters, but would suffer in swimming events. Blacks also have a higher fat free bone density than whites, which leads to blacks not being able to float since fat floats.
For the same reasons why blacks wouldn’t be good swimmers, whites can’t jump, on average. Type II muscle fiber doesn’t allow for the explosive power needed to be able to jump as well as blacks. Even though blacks have a heavier skeletons than whites on average, they can still jump due to their muscle fiber typing. This is also why whites are underrepresented in the NBA (which is 74.4 percent black). Testosterone and musculoskeletal differences are the causes for racial differences in sports.
Whites drown more than blacks before 5 years of age, but after 5 years, more blacks drown in comparison to whites. Drowning in natural water settings was significantly higher for blacks than for whites, with blacks drowning more than whites at ages 7-8 through 17-18 years of age. Swimming pool drowning rates was also shown to be elevated for black children This data shows that after 5 years of age, blacks drown at a significantly greater amount than whites or ‘Hispanics’, which is attributed to the data above.
In our ‘post-racial society’, it’s become taboo to study, and even speak of differences so prevalent in our society, seeing as sports is a huge part of many peoples’ lives around the world. Most of the stars everyone speaks of are black. They must, subconsciously atleast, notice that these differences are there seeing the racial differences on the screen (except for baseball). Of course practice has a part in becoming elite in whatever sport is chosen, however, the best also have a higher inclination to want to do better as well as already being genetically gifted. Those who are more genetically different are, obviously, on the right side of the bell curve, thus, are extremely rare. Though, we can see these genetic disparities in racial differences in sports, with swimming being a huge tell.
It’s not just “a racist joke” that blacks can’t swim, there is biological and physical evidence that blacks, on average, have a more difficult time in the water due to difference in fat-free body mass as well as more narrow chest cavities and heavier skeletons than whites. The same reasons why blacks dominate other sports (football, soccer, boxing, basketball) is the same reason why blacks are underrepresented as swimmers: their biology. However, the trope that white men can’t jump is true as well, and also has it’s origin in genetic differences between the races.
The cause for racial disparities in drowning, as well as in swimming competitions is due considerably to genetic factors such as bone density and chest cavity narrowness. Other environmental factors include children not being taught how to swim due to them being more likely to be raised by single mothers. Bone density and heaviness also shows why blacks suffer less fractures than whites, with white women suffering from it the most. That same bone heaviness is also a reason why blacks are not good swimmers. Muscle fiber typing play a difference in racial differences in sports ability, which the races also vary in significantly. For these reasons, “White men can’t jump.” That’s OK, because “Black men can’t swim.”