Ed Accura is so passionate about water safety that he filmed his own swimming journey to inspire others.
‘A Film Called Blacks Can’t Swim’ sent shockwaves through the swimming community by showing just how many people of African, Caribbean and Asian communities do not know how to swim.
The world-renowned filmmaker of Ghanaian descent has since joined forces with Danielle Obe, Seren Jones and Olympic swimmer Alice Dearing to create the Black Swimming Association (BSA) in 2020, an organisation working to promote water safety, drowning prevention and the benefits of aquatics in ethnic communities.
The BSA has been named the 2022 National Lottery UK Project of the Year, beating off stiff competition from more than 1300 organisations and will receive a £5,000 cash prize as well as an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy.
And by documenting his own relationship with water, Accura is thrilled he can continue to help people navigate their own journey with swimming.
He said: “I only learnt how to swim two years ago and before that I had no affiliation with water.
“The reason I decided to learn was because of my daughter.
“I once read a story about a father who couldn’t save his daughter from drowning and I thought to myself that if I was ever in a position where my daughter was in trouble and because of lack of vital water safety skills I couldn’t save her, I could never forgive myself.
“I decided to document it in the form of a docu-drama. When you saw the look on my face when I first got into the water, that was not acting that was real fear.
“But it’s the reason that years later, we’re still having this conversation.”
The BSA has evolved from a WhatsApp group between four people into a blossoming organisation in the past three years.
Official participation figures from Sport England show that amongst African, Caribbean, and Asian communities: 95% of black adults; 80% of black children do not swim.
And now partnered with Sport Wales, the BSA hopes to spread awareness of water safety to ethnic communities and challenge the negative perceptions around black people in swimming.
He said: “All four of us were campaigning and we decided that if we were all doing what we’re doing individually and having such a big impact, together we would be great.
“We quickly realised that there was very little representation at elite level from our communities.
“Putting together the organisation gave us representation and bridged the aquatics sector and our disengaged community.
“And that’s why we made this organisation, to bridge that gap and get more people in the pool.
“For the past three years I’ve been an advocate for getting people to understand water safety and drowning prevention within the African and Caribbean and Asian communities.
“And to have The National Lottery be a part of this is so huge, all of a sudden it opens up the door to a wider field.”
Accura’s documentary has become a core resource for the BSA, with a second film ‘Blacks Can’t Swim: The Sequel’ released in 2021. Accura now continues to tell other people’s swimming stories, believing that his title of ‘Blacks Can’t Swim’ provides the crucial spark needed to get the conversation rolling.
He said: “I always believed that I had heavy bones, that black people couldn’t swim because I had no role models.
“Using the title made it easier to have conversations that were previously very uncomfortable to have.
“So, I will keep making these films as long as people have the stories to tell. The more we talk about it the bigger the chance for us to do something about it.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. For more information about The National Lottery Awards, visit lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and follow the campaign on Twitter @LottoGoodCauses #NLAwards.