News and Insights

Every Child a Swimmer: Ensuring Water Safety for All

June 26, 2023

Growing up on the Jersey Shore as surfers, lifeguarding was a logical means of early employment for my friends and I. However, as time went on and summers on the stand turned into over a decade of saving lives, it evolved into something far more significant. There was something in lifeguarding that we all eventually felt called to. As we watched vans of beachgoers rush to the water’s edge, you could immediately tell who knew how to swim and who did not. There was a lack of awareness of just how essential swimming is.

“Stop, Drop and Roll” is burned into the mind of every student attending fire safety seminars. While fire safety education is undoubtedly crucial, it is equally important to address the disparity in water safety instruction, considering the number one cause of death of children aged 1 through 4 is drowning. As a team of experts already living the lifestyle of our client partners, the Consumer Lifestyle and Sports team is proud to be drivers of positive change alongside iconic innovators and category leaders like Life Time, Every Child a Swimmer, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Through our work together, we aim to raise awareness about the significance of learning to swim, especially for children, and celebrate the history of the sport.

Inspiring Tomorrow’s Swimmers

While it may have begun as a necessity, swimming has been a recreational activity for almost as long as recorded history. The history of swimming in America and in modern times began in the late 19th century, and by the early 20th century, swimming had gained massive popularity as a sport. American swimmers started to make their mark on an international stage in the early Olympic Games, with notable athletes like Charles Daniels, Johnny Weissmuller, and Duke Kahanamoku. Today, swimming is sustained as a highly competitive and widely participated sport globally, with swimming clubs, swim schools, and aquatic centers at the center of communities worldwide.

Preserving this rich history is the goal of the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) in Fort Lauderdale, FL, which inspires future generations with stories of the remarkable accomplishments of iconic swimmers, divers, and synchronized swimming legends. The mission-driven, philanthropic arm of the ISHOF, Every Child a Swimmer, provides accessible swimming education for children. Its impactful work focuses on community outreach, swimming lessons, water safety training, and educational resources to address socio-economic barriers.

Every Child a Swimmer collaborates with state and local governments to advocate for legislation that allows schools to offer essential water safety resources and education to students. Building upon the success of Florida where similar laws were passed last year, Every Child a Swimmer has helped the passage of legislation in Georgia and Arkansas within the past month. Three states down, with 47 to go! Our team is proud to be a part of this process.

Additionally, Life Time, owners and operators of 160+ high-end athletic country clubs across North America, is working to help spread global awareness of the ongoing dangers of drowning and educate on safety in and around water. The wellness pioneer offers a unique perspective as they certify 5,000+ lifeguards annually and teach 30,000 kids how to swim each month nationwide.

The Alarming Reality of Childhood Drowning

According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood drowning is a pressing public health issue, ranking among the top causes of unintentional injury-related deaths for children worldwide. It is the third leading cause of death worldwide and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes for children aged 5-14. No one knows this more than Casey McGovern, Program Director at Every Child A Swimmer. Casey lost her youngest daughter, Edna Mae, to a drowning accident and has since made it her mission to curb these unfortunate but largely preventable statistics.

The Value of Learning to Swim

I was not the best swimmer growing up. My self-taught lackluster technique was nearly the end of my lifeguarding career at the test, but endurance ultimately helped me pass. As the years passed and my exposure to skilled swimmers and the ocean increased, it quite literally came with the territory. With learning to swim comes the confidence to stay safe in and around water, and it’s something every child should be exposed to.

Strong swimmers can recognize potential dangers and manage unexpected situations, all while assisting others in distress. A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that early introduction to water safety classes and formal swimming lessons has been associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning among 1 to 4-year-old children. As my old lifeguard captain used to preach, “lifeguarding is 80% proactive and 20% reactive work,” and nothing is more proactive than giving yourself or your child the ability to safeguard themselves in the water.

Our client Life Time knows the value of learning to swim well, and employs seven essential water and swim safety tips across all programming and communications.

  • Follow the 25:10 Rule – If a child can’t swim 25 meters (the length of most pools) without stopping, a parent must always be within 10 feet of their child and, preferably, in the water with them.
  • Maintain a Maximum 1:3 Ratio of Guardians to Swimmers – An adult should monitor no more than three swimmers at one time.
  • Sign Up for Swim Lessons – The earlier, the better!
  • Get CPR Certified – This skill can save a life in an emergency.
  • Take Breaks Every Two Hours – Take this time to rest, rehydrate and reapply sunscreen before returning to the water for more fun.
  • Not all Floatation Devices are Created Equal – There are many floatation devices that won’t adequately protect kids in the water. It’s important they wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Wear Bright Swimsuits – Studies find that neon and bright-colored bathing suits are the safest and easiest to spot in the water.

In addition to its life-saving benefits, swimming provides exceptional physical activity and is one of the most recommended ways to improve cardiovascular fitness, strength, and overall well-being. Swimming is a low-impact aerobic exercise that stimulates the heart and lungs which promotes endurance. The combination of rhythmic breathing and continuous movement in the water challenges the cardiovascular system, improving lung capacity, circulation, and overall cardiovascular health.

For some, myself included, mastering swimming cultivates a sense of achievement, enhancing self-confidence and self-esteem. Overcoming fears, setting and achieving goals, and most importantly, witnessing progress contributes to personal growth.

Carrying the Legacy Forward

Swimming education is not just a skill but a crucial life-saving tool that every child should be given the chance to acquire. By supporting organizations like Life Time, Every Child a Swimmer and the International Swimming Hall of Fame, we can empower children and adults with water safety knowledge and prevent tragic drowning incidents. Collectively, we have the power to share lifesaving information and cultivate a stronger water safety culture for all.

TAGS: Sports Marketing

POSTED BY: Jay Cariero

Jay Cariero