Only 56 percent of Americans can perform the five core swimming skills, a recent survey conducted on behalf of the American Red Cross said.
The steps, also known as "water competency," include jumping or stepping into water over one's head, returning to the surface to tread water or float for one minute, circling around and identifying an exit, swimming 25 yards to that point and then exiting the water.
The Red Cross said Tuesday that it plans to instruct 50,000 people across 19 states how to swim properly, part of a new campaign to reduce the drowning rate in 50 cities by 50 percent during the next three to five years.
An average of 10 people in the U.S. die from drowning each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It turns out that Americans also think they are more skilled in the water than they are: 86 percent of the respondents to the same survey claimed they knew how to swim. Only 46 percent of those surveyed said they have experienced a situation in which they thought they might drown, and nearly a fifth said they knew somebody who drowned.
“We're asking every family to make sure that both adults and children can swim and that parents make water safety a priority this summer,” Red Cross Centennial Initiative director Connie Harvey said in a statement.