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A month ago, six African-American teenagers drowned in a single incident in Louisiana, prompting soul-searching about why so many young black Americans can't swim.
When 15-year-old DeKendrix Warner accidentally stepped into deeper water while wading in the Red River in Shreveport, he panicked.
JaTavious Warner, 17, Takeitha Warner, 13, JaMarcus Warner, 14, Litrelle Stewart, 18, Latevin Stewart, 15, and LaDarius Stewart, 17, rushed to help him and each other.
None of them could swim. All six drowned. DeKendrix was rescued by a passer-by.
Maude Warner, mother of three of the victims, and the other adults present also couldn't swim.
The US has almost 3,500 accidental drownings every year, almost 10 a day.
But according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the fatal drowning rate of African-American children aged five-14 is three times that of white children.
A recent study sponsored by USA Swimming uncovered equally stark statistics.
Just under 70% of African-American children surveyed said they had no or low ability to swim. Low ability merely meant they were able to splash around in the shallow end. A further 12% said they could swim but had "taught themselves".
The study found 58% of Hispanic children had no or low swimming ability. For white children, the figure was only 42%.
"It is an epidemic that is almost going unnoticed," says Sue Anderson, director of programmes and services at USA Swimming.
The swimming body would like all children to be taught to swim.
"We would like it to be like seatbelts and bicycle helmets," says Ms Anderson.
But the situation in the US can vary hugely even within a single state.
Unlike the UK, where learning to swim is enshrined in the national curriculum except in Scotland, the ultimate responsibility in the US often lies with parents.
"I would love to make it a rule like they have in the UK," says Cullen Jones, a gold medallist in the freestyle 100m relay in Beijing, and a spokesman for USA Swimming's Make a Splash campaign.
"It isn't a requirement, it isn't a priority in the US."
Jones's mother took him to swimming lessons after he nearly drowned at a theme park aged five. By eight he was swimming competitively.
The Make a Splash campaign is targeting all non-swimmers and their parents but there is a particular focus on ethnic minority families.
Many black parents are not teaching their children to swim.
Some might assume the fundamental reasons would be lack of money for swimming lessons or living in areas where there were no pools, but the reality is more complex.
"Fear of drowning or fear of injury was really the major variable," says Prof Carol Irwin, a sociologist from the University of Memphis, who led the study for USA Swimming.