NEW ORLEANS – Essence Music Festival was in full swing this weekend, and one of the events made some waves Saturday.

Members of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority partnered with Olympic swimmer Maritza McClendon to hold a free clinic on water safety.

Organizers say 70 percent of African Americans did not know how to swim five years ago when the Swim 1922 started the partnership with USA Swimming.

“As an Olympic swimmer, I’m like, ‘Wow! That’s unbelievable to me,’” McClendon said. “I’ve always loved the sport, so to hear something like that, so many people are fearful of the water or don’t know how to swim is absolutely scary.”

In 2017, that statistic has dropped to 65 percent thanks to programs that focus on drowning prevention and water safety for youth.

Saturday, children in New Orleans learned different techniques like floating and strong kicking. They also learned the importance of being safe.