Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

June 2018

Make a Splash Campaign Teaches Millions to Swim

By Dave Ramont

The USA Swimming Foundation, established in 2004, is the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming, working to “strengthen the sport of swimming by raising funds to support programs that save lives and build champions, in the pool and in life.” One way they’re doing this is through their Make a Splash initiative, which aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim, regardless of race, gender or financial circumstance. The foundation partners with learn-to-swim providers, community-based water safety advocates and national organizations to provide swimming lessons and educate children, parents and communities on the importance of learning how to swim.

And recently, the USA Swimming Foundation was announced that they’d achieved their goal of providing swim lessons to 1 million children in 2017, bringing the total number of kids served to more than 6 million in the past 10 years.

Make a Splash Program Director Tina Dessart said that it’s an incredible feeling to realize that their efforts have helped a million kids in just 365 days. “While we are thrilled with this accomplishment, it fuels us to work harder to provide even more swim lessons in 2018. We want to thank the Make a Splash Local Partner swim lesson providers who made achieving this goal possible.”

Make a Splash Local Partner swim lesson providers give scholarships so that all kids can participate in their swim programs, while also promoting water safety education in their communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children younger than 5, and the second leading cause among those 14 and under. Each day in the United States, about 10 people die from drowning, and three of those are children. Some 64 percent of African-American children, 45 percent of Hispanic/Latino children and 40 percent of Caucasian children have low or no swimming ability. Additionally, 79 percent of kids in households with incomes of less than $50,000 per year have little to no swimming ability. But the CDC also says that early childhood swim lessons can reduce childhood drowning risk by 88 percent.

Since 2007, when the Make a Splash initiative began with just one Local Partner in Indiana, the program has grown to serve more than 850 partners in all 50 states. To date, the USA Swimming Foundation has provided more than $5 million in grants to Local Partners for free and reduced-cost swimming lessons nationwide. In addition to their Local Partner network, they offer other opportunities for involvement to corporate entities, nonprofit organizations, community-based water safety advocacy groups and individuals who are interested in making donations of money, time or talent.

In June, the USA Swimming Foundation embarks on their 10th annual national awareness tour, visiting cities across America to spread their lifesaving message of learn-to-swim. Sponsored by Phillips 66, the tour has visited more than 45 cities thus far. This year’s destinations include Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco and Orlando, Fla.

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