The USA Swimming Foundation: Saving Lives through Lessons
Photo Courtesy: USA Swimming Foundation
“Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger,” according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This alarming statistic can be remedied simply by teaching children how to swim. Swimming lessons save lives.
The USA Swimming Foundation, which was established in 2004, is dedicated to lowering this statistic and doing away with it altogether. The philanthropic arm of USA Swimming, the foundation raises funds “to support programs that save lives and build champions—in the pool and in life,” according to the foundation’s website.
Through its Make a Splash initiative, the foundation provides the opportunity for children across the nation to take swimming classes. It doesn’t matter their race, gender, or financial circumstances. Everyone is included. With its over 850 Make a Splash providers throughout the United States, the foundation has seen to it that 4.9 million children have been given free and reduced-cost swimming instruction since the program’s inception in 2007. The foundation’s goal for this calendar year is to provide instruction to at least 1 million more.
Olympic medalists believe in the program and put the full weight of their support behind it by participating in the yearly Make a Splash Tour. The ninth annual tour is under way now. This incredible undertaking, sponsored by Phillips 66, tours five cities and employs Olympic medalists to educate children, parents, communities, and civic leaders on the importance of learning to swim.
Olympic medalist Cullen Jones is not only engaged in this year’s tour, he is also the USA Swimming Foundation Ambassador. The second African-American swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal, Jones is personally linked to the cause. At the age of five, he almost drowned. Immediately after the frightening incident, his parents made the decision to enroll him in swimming lessons. The two-time Olympic gold medalist states, “This is important to me because drowning rates are highest among minorities, and we have a solution—it’s swim lessons.”
Texas native, and Olympic gold medal winner in swimming, Simone Manuel, another participant in this year’s tour, also extols the importance of swimming lessons and their ability to change lives by saying, “Learning to swim changed the course of my life forever.” She also says this of being part of the Make a Splash Tour: “The USA Swimming Foundation has made it their mission to offer children in the United States the life skill of swimming, and it is rewarding to see children learn to swim. They’ve achieved a milestone, and it gives them the skills they need to build their confidence in the water and in life.”
The Make a Splash Tour is comprised of in-water swim lesson clinics and meetings with community leaders, swim lesson providers, parents, and local residents. It also takes the opportunity to encourage anyone who can to donate and help save children’s lives through the gift of swimming lessons.
This year’s tour stops are:
Houston: May 12 and 13; Olympians: Simone Manuel, Cullen Jones, and Rowdy Gaines; Dignitaries: Mayor Sylvester Turner
Los Angeles: May 24; Olympians: Missy Franklin and Rowdy Gaines
New Orleans: June 8; Olympians: Cullen Jones and Rowdy Gaines
Miami and Fort Lauderdale: June 12; Olympians: Cullen Jones and Rowdy Gaines; Dignitaries: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
The USA Swimming Foundation cares about the lives of America’s children. Through its Make a Splash initiative, it has given millions of children the gift of water safety. And through the Make a Splash Tour, it further encourages and inspires children to learn to swim. Just imagine what a thrill it is for children to meet their Olympic swimming heroes in this way. They’ve watched these men and women on television use their strength, endurance, and skill to achieve their Olympic dreams. Their experiences are an inspiration to children, as are their stories. To listen to their heroes explain the importance of water safety and working toward a goal makes a lasting and important impression on children. The influence of all these agents is undeniable and crucial to saving young lives.
To learn more, please visit www.usaswimmingfoundation.org/makeasplash.