1 Million Kids Safer Around the Water as USA Swimming Foundation Reaches Swim Lesson Enrollment Goal

Sep 16, 2011, 07:00 ET from USA Swimming

National Make a Splash initiatives reaches 1 million kids a year ahead of schedule

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Sept. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One million American children will be safer in and around the water, thanks to the USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash initiative, which reported its one-millionth enrollment this month. Make a Splash is a national, child-focused water safety initiative that aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim. The one million children have enrolled in programs that are hosted by the Foundation's more than 400 local partner organizations in 45 states. The Foundation had stated the goal of getting 1 million kids in swimming lessons before the end of 2012.

"To experience first-hand how powerful this program is, and to actually have positively affected 1 million children with life-saving learn-to-swim education is a dream come true for the USA Swimming Foundation," said Debbie Hesse, executive director. "This success a full year ahead of schedule reinforces what an impact this program can have, and further invigorates our commitment to saving lives. While we are incredibly proud of our accomplishments, we recognize that there is still a significant need, and a great opportunity to reach more children."

The Make a Splash initiative began in 2007, and has grown tremendously in the past four years. The initiative includes a national awareness campaign to teach parents about the necessity of learn-to-swim education for their children, national research on the barriers to learning to swim, especially among ethnic minorities, an annual six-city tour with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones and a network of more than 400 local partner programs who provide free or discounted swimming lessons or water safety education.

"To have influenced a million kids regarding the life-saving message of how important it is to learn how to swim and be safe around water is not just rewarding, but also motivating to me to reach as many more children as possible across the U.S.," said Jones. "The tragic drowning statistics this year reinforce the fact that every child, regardless of ethnicity or economics, should have the opportunity to learn to swim. Learning to swim is a life skill, not just a recreational skill, and I am so proud to be a part of the USA Swimming Foundation's effort."  

The summer of 2011 has seen record drowning numbers in multiple states and municipalities, including Indiana, Minnesota and Florida, and drowning remains the leading cause of injury-related death among kids aged 1-14. Each year, more than 3,400 people drown in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14. In fact, 60-70% of African-American and Hispanic children cannot swim, according to a national research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis. African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers, the CDC reports.

About the USA Swimming Foundation

The USA Swimming Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming.  Established in 2004, the Foundation works to strengthen the sport by saving lives and building champions. Whether we're equipping our children with the life-saving skill of learn-to-swim, or providing financial support to our heroes on the U.S. National Team, the USA Swimming Foundation aims to provide the wonderful experience of swimming to kids at all levels across the country. The Foundation also serves as the home for our National and Olympic Team Alumni reunions and regional events. The development efforts of the USA Swimming Foundation aim to establish an endowment to strengthen the future of USA Swimming's programs and services. To learn more, visit www.swimfoundation.org

About Make a Splash

Consistent with the goal of saving lives and providing every child in America with the opportunity to learn how to swim, Make a Splash, a national child-focused water safety initiative, was created by the USA Swimming Foundation in 2007. Make a Splash partners with learn-to-swim providers across the country to provide swimming lessons and educate kids on the importance of learning how to swim. Many partner programs are located in disadvantaged or ethnically diverse communities and provide training programs (including certified instructors, resources and quality programming) to help children become water-safe and share with them a lifelong physical fitness activity.  Make a Splash's awareness campaign is built around the staggering statistics that minority children ages 5-14 are most at risk for drowning, and drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 14. Make a Splash educates parents through a national awareness campaign; saves lives by joining forces with grassroots learn-to-swim programs and reaches hundreds of thousands of children through its programming, promotions and publicity tours.