Ayanna Rakhu in the pool

Mother may I swim?

U of M PhD candidate Ayanna Rakhu is working to understand the reasons why many African American parents and their children don’t swim through her dissertation, titled “Mother May I Swim?”

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Rakhu wants to transform the way swim instructors teach lessons to Black families. Ultimately, Rakhu plans to create a swim school that is culturally relevant and trauma informed, meaning the curriculum and teaching would focus on overcoming many of the barriers to swimming that African Americans face.

Starting points for change

Read more about Rakhu’s work

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U of M Learn to Swim program

Swimming lessons at the U

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Meet the people behind the story

Ayanna Rakhu

Ayanna Rakhu

Ayanna Rakhu is a PhD candidate at the School of Kinesiology in the University in Minnesota College of Education and Human Development. Her doctoral research is focused on swimming, specifically how to encourage African American mothers and their children to swim.