Bringing Water Safety and Education to North Minneapolis

Fear has many faces but courage also comes in many forms. And when courage turns into comfortability in the water for kids on the Northside, the vision of V3 is carried forward. More than 50 people of all ages, races, and genders faced their fears together inside the Franklin Middle School pool on June 4th; they were participants in the North Minneapolis Water Safety Festival, a unique and successful partnership between V3, Diversity in Aquatics, Swim 1922, and Abbey’s Hope

“It’s something that hasn’t really been done. We’re excited and I hope everybody had a blast! Being in the water is so fun. It is so relaxing. It’s exciting. So I hope mostly people had fun and then I hope they learned how to do something new in the water or learn a new skill,” organizer Ayanna Rakhu, Ph.D. said. Rakhu’s doctorate dissertation “Mother May I Swim?” examined the reasons why many African American parents and their children don’t swim.

V3 is working to help families of color clear one of the largest hurdles in the way of water safety for everyone: accessibility. The future V3 Center will be a game changer, much like the Water Safety Festival was. Eager swimmers were introduced to the water for the first time and toddlers could be found learning to swim right next to young adults. Participants were also given swim caps, goggles and life jackets. 

The goal is to turn that courage into comfortability, and comfortability into confidence as we work to make sure everybody can safely enjoy all that the Land of 10,000 Lakes has to offer.

“What we want is for people of African descent to feel super comfortable in the water and that starts with learning how to be safe in the water.”

— AyanNa Rakhu, Ph.D.

“There is a statistic, that is kind of the most prominent statistic, that 64% of African-Americans do not know how to swim. So, that has led to high levels of drowning and just low swim participation altogether,” Rakhu explained. “So, what we want is for people of African descent to feel super comfortable in the water and that starts with learning how to be safe in the water. It starts with learning the skills that you need to know how to swim. And so that’s what we’re trying to bring to the community. Hopefully we can keep bringing them these things so that we can bring that number (64% and the numbers of drownings) down.”

V3 has always been inspired by the community it serves and the North Minneapolis Water Safety Festival was a great motivator on our water education and swim lesson-accessibility journey. While the V3 Center is being built, we are launching a swim program at Franklin Middle School, which includes group and family lessons, teenguards, and momguards (more info below).

Together we can save lives, have fun, and continue to affirmatively answer that question: “Mother, May I Swim?”


Swim Program Details

Group Lessons – All levels

Learn basic arm strokes, coordinated leg kicks, front and back floating with roll-overs, breath control, and skills to promote comfort with deep water submersion.  

Depending on level of swimmer – we will also focus on stroke technique, developing endurance, and improving water safety skills.

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Private & Family Lesson

Learn to swim as a family or bring your friends! Up to five people are welcome to join us to work on swimming skills with a private instructor. $10 for a 30 minute lesson. 

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This class is for teens ages 13-19 to learn and practice lifeguarding skills in preparation for the Red Cross Lifeguard Certification. Participants will develop in-water lifesaving skills, as well as CPR/AED, and First Aid for adults, children and infants. V3 is looking to hire lifeguards and hopes participants will consider working for V3 after getting certified!

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In this class mothers of all swim levels will learn water safety and lifesaving skills. You will learn how to recognize a water emergency and what actions to take, as well as preventative measures that can keep you and your family safe in the water. These skills will be taught both in and out of the water.

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Open swim

Mondays in July from 4:30-5:30pm 
Wednesdays in July 7:30-8:30pm 

We are continuing to add programming to address community needs and interests, so please reach out to if you have questions or ideas!

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