Creating Swimmers This Summer

Learning to swim is an investment that can pay dividends in health, enjoyment and living a long life. Knowing how to swim can mean the difference between life and death, and opens up a world of other activities, like sailing, canoeing, fishing and water skiing, making them safer and more fun. This summer, the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s (NSPF’s) Step Into SwimTMCampaign will help up to 1,000 children become swimmers, including children living in rural areas with limited opportunities for swimming lessons.

Swim lessons—compliments of the Step Into SwimTM Campaign—at a New York state park lake
Photo credit: New York State Parks Department

The non-profit National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) reports that four organizations received a total of $70,000 Step Into SwimTM gifts from the NSPF this year. Those gifts were funded by donations to the Campaign, which were matched dollar for dollar by the Foundation. According to a news release by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, one of those programs supported the American Red Cross and New York State Parks department. The collaboration, and the Step Into SwimTM gift, enabled the Red Cross to train over 15 new instructors this summer. The Parks Department made the swim lessons available for free in five New York state parks. New York state residents can check the schedule of swimming lessons for potential lessons in their areas. We applaud these groups and their efforts to share the gift of swimming.

Why Bother to Take Swimming Lessons?

A personal recollection from Bruce Bernard, PhD

Some families don’t think learning to swim is important, either because the parents don’t know how to swim, and they don’t view it as a problem, or because they don’t live near bodies of water. This reminds me of a very important memory from my childhood. My next door neighbor, Chuck, was the strongest man I have ever known. He was in his 30’s and would wrestle me and five of my friends, all of us about 16 – 17 years old. Chuck would throw us around like bales of straw. He could pick up three of us at a time (he owned a fence company and loaded railroad ties daily). No matter how many friends I had to wrestle with him, he always ended up putting us in a pile and sitting on us!

Several years after I finished college, I heard that Chuck had died. He had been in a small boat with his wife and had fallen overboard and DROWNED! INCONCEIVEABLE! Chuck? With his muscles? Save your child’s life: Give him or her swimming lessons.

Finding Swimming Lessons in Your Area
Summer is a great time to start your children soaring through the water as confident swimmers. In addition to the Step Into SwimTM Program, here are a few options for finding lessons:

  • YMCA: The YMCA offers swimming lessons for all ages, family swim, competitive swimming and diving teams and adaptive swim programs for children with special needs. Find your local “Y” here.
  • American Red Cross: The American Red Cross offers a six-level Learn-to-Swim program designed for children over six years of age and adults. Register for classes in your area here.
  • Local Community Pools and Swim Clubs: Contact your local public or private swimming pool or club and inquire about swimming lessons. Lessons, either private or group, are often given on summer mornings before the pool opens for general use.