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Feature Story

May 2019


USA Swimming Grants Will Boost Learn-to-Swim Programs

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By Dave Ramont

The USA Swimming Foundation—the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming—raises funds to support programs that help save lives and strengthen the sport of swimming. Recently it announced that it has awarded more than $500,000 to learn-to-swim programs across the United States, which will help provide swim lessons to more than 25,000 children through the foundation's Make a Splash Local Partners. Through a competitive annual review process, the foundation vetted more than 240 applications, ultimately choosing 85 programs to receive funding.

USA Swimming Foundation executive director Debbie Hesse said it's a great feeling to know that funding will be used to create a valuable swimming experience for tens of thousands of children who may not have had the opportunity to learn how to swim. "We are thrilled with the depth of this year's Make a Splash Local Partner applicant pool, and we couldn't be prouder to support these exciting and lifesaving opportunities for children across the country. We owe a tremendous thank you to our partners and donors, who continue to make a difference."

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 14 in the United States. Research has shown that formal swimming lessons reduce the risk of childhood drowning by 88 percent. The USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash initiative is a national child-focused water safety campaign that aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim. Through the initiative, the foundation partners with learn-to-swim providers and water safety advocates across the country to provide swim lessons while educating kids and their families on the importance of learning how to swim.

The Make a Splash initiative has three main focus areas: raising awareness, increasing participation and aligning partners. These partners include community-based water safety coalitions and advocacy groups, national organizations and volunteers.

In 2018, the USA Swimming Foundation helped provide more than 1.3 million children with swimming lessons through their Make a Splash Local Partner network. Since 2007, more than 7.5 million children have been served by the foundation and its network of 1,000 swim lesson providers across the country.

Some of the 85 USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash Local Partners that will receive funding through this first round of 2019 grant awards include the Ambush Swim School in Nacogdoches, Texas; Everett YMCA in Everett, Wash.; the City of Boynton Beach, Fla.; the HUB Recreation Center in Marion, Ill.; Goldfish Swim School in Owings Mills, Md.; The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Valley of the Moon Aquatics in Sonoma, Calif,; and the YMCA of Vineland, N.J.

Information on grant funding for 2020 will be released in the fall. Note that you must be a Make a Splash Local partner in good standing. to apply for funding. To learn more, visit usaswimmingfoundation.org.