“I live near the Thames and I said to myself, if anything happened to her and I couldn’t help, I would never forgive myself.”
Until then he suffered from what he calls Bl-aquaphobia, a word he coined to describe the inherent fear black people have of water – a fear that’s “very, very different” from their white counterparts, he says.
“With white people, it’s usually to do with something that’s happened – ‘I fell into the water, there was an accident’, something like that. But there are a lot of black people, myself included, that have aquaphobia and don’t even know it.”
According to Swim England, the sport’s governing body, 95% of black adults and 80% of black children in England do not swim, and only 2% of regular swimmers are black.