ALBANY — The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) announced the start of the 7th annual free Learn-to-Swim program which will reach up to 3,000 children this summer at 26 State Parks.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “This program teaches children a valuable, life-long skill that helps keep them safe, promotes a healthy lifestyle and gives them a connection to the outdoors. Through the support of Governor Cuomo’s Connect Kids initiative and our partners in the Learn-to-Swim program, we are taking steps that can save lives.”
Since it began in 2013, the Learn-to-Swim program has helped nearly 18,000 children learn how to swim with instruction from State Parks lifeguards.
“Learning to swim as early as possible is important for everyone and greatly reduces the future risk of drowning,” said Commissioner Kulleseid. “But it is never too late to learn.”
Each year, there are about 3,500 unintentional drowning deaths across the U.S., with about 700 of those children aged 14 or less, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For every child who dies, another five require hospital emergency care after a near-fatal incident.
With classes that started July 1, the Learn-to-Swim season includes hundreds of individual classes taught for all ages and levels, varying from swim lessons to water safety presentations.
Enrollment for the program remains open at many participating State Parks. Programs are free and pre-registration is required. For more information on schedules and how to sign up, visit the Learn-to-Swim page. Space is limited, and programs can fill up quickly.
Each swim program takes 40-45 minutes and participants who complete lessons receive a Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Achievement Booklet and a State Parks Learn-to-Swim T-shirt.
The Learn-to-Swim program is offered through a partnership among the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; the American Red Cross; the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance and the Master Pools Guild; and the Northeast Spa and Pool Association Foundation.
The Pool and Hot Tub Alliance and the Master Pools Guild, and the Northeast Spa & Pool Association Foundation annually donate $15,000 to offset staff and program costs to enable State Parks to offer the free swim classes. The American Red Cross provides free training to State Park lifeguards to obtain Water Safety Instructor certification, allowing them to teach swimming classes. The free Learn-to-Swim program also builds on the instruction already offered at state park facilities as part of programs arranged by summer camps, municipalities and other partner organizations.