We might well ask ourselves this question as a society.
According to Slate, in some respects it is a socio-economic issue:
“A child’s ability to swim is also strongly correlated with his parents’ income. Sixty-seven percent of poor swimmers have a household income less than $49,999. Only 29 percent of skilled swimmers fall below that income level. In the second phase of the University of Memphis study (referenced above), researchers looked more closely at income and found that 12 percent of children who participate in a reduced-cost school lunch program — an easier piece of data for a child to report than household income — said they don’t even feel comfortable in the shallow end of a pool, compared with just 6 percent of wealthier children.”
But a study conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation found the key factor affecting whether a child could swim is whether their parents could swim. What would it take to change this?