Drowning is a leading cause of death for US children. Teaching youth to swim in a formal setting from certified instructors is a consistent drowning prevention recommendation. Purposes for this investigation was to examine type of swimming instruction and ability to swim and compare to attitudes toward swimming among US youth. Methods were similar to previous USA Swimming studies in 2008 and 2010. YMCA associations in five cities were used to recruit adolescent survey respondents (n=600) aged 12-18 years. Results showed African American youth had the lowest rate of formal swimming instruction (29%) compared to White (32%) and Hispanic (42%) peers. Free/reduced lunch qualifiers reported a 23% formal instruction rate as compared to 43% of non-qualifiers. Formally instructed youth were 2.35 times more likely to report being a skilled swimmer (86%) compared to informally instructed youth (72%). Formal swimming instruction is recommended, and interventions need to target underserved populations.