Swimming is like walking, but for water. It's part of the few basic means of movement we, humans, have at our disposal, along with running, crawling and climbing. Not knowing how to swim puts you at a HUGE disadvantage, as you pretty much can't avoid water. Any mildly interesting / fun activity might turn into a potentially lethal one, should you not know how to swim. Going fishing? Better not fall into the water... It's like permadeath for video games: instead of ending up wet, and maybe slightly (or very) cold, you just friggin' die if you fall into deep water. I know, swimmers can drown too, but if you can't swim, you're guaranteed to have to be rescued.
On another note, it's so weird to see healthy people being incapable of performing the most basic human activities: I've seen grown men injure themselves trying to climb over a 3 feet fence (not drunk), women twisting their ankles and tearing tendons when running towards a bus stop, etc. Now, I'm not saying that everybody needs to be a world-class climber like Adam Ondra or swimmer, like Michael Phelps. But learning how to... I don't know, not die when navigating anything but flat terrain seems like it should be part of being a grown human.
Edit: Jesus Christ this blew up... Most of the negative responses are about not having access to swimming facilities (either due to lack of money / lack of said facilities or both). I'm obviously not suggesting someone shouldn't eat for 3 months to pay for swimming lessons or move to an area just to learn.
But "I'm scared of water / I've had a bad experience" are not valid excuses, all the more, they're reasons to push your boundaries and defeat said fear. It's like saying "I've had my heart broken in high school, I will NEVER date again". Sure, you can avoid both water and dating, but is it worth it? If you end up falling in water / love unexpectedly, you'll just panic more because of the unfamiliarity of the situation.
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