Dwyer, Jones, Hardy Headline USA Swimming’s Make A Splash Effort In Chicago

Photo Courtesy: Andrew Jovanovic

By Andrew Jovanovic, Swimming World College Intern

Olympians Conor Dwyer, Cullen Jones, and Jessica Hardy ushered in USA Swimming Foundation’s Make A Splash Tour at Friday morning’s press conference in downtown Chicago.

“USA Swimming Foundation’s Make A Splash partner program presented by Phillips 66 is making a difference all over the country as far as educating our public and bringing awareness to the drowning epidemic that we face in our country,” opened Rowdy Gaines at the Friday morning press conference.”Our mission is simple: to save lives and build champions.”

Rowdy Gains

Photo Courtesy: Andrew Jovanovic

The drowning epidemic in the United States is real. USA Swimming Foundation Make A Splash Tour’s press release lets us in on some startling statistics.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S. with almost 25 percent being children under the age of 14.
  • 70 percent of African-American and 60 percent of Hispanic/Latino children cannot swim, according to a study by the USA Swimming Foundation and University of Memphis.
  • African-American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers.
  • Drowning is a silent killer.

The General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District Mike Kelly spoke next with a proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel recognizing the alarming statistics and the need for free and reduced cost swim lessons.

“The goal in Chicago this year is to increase the number of swimming lessons from 20,000 last year to 25,000 this year working with the city of Chicago,” noted the Executive Director of USA Swimming Foundation’s Debbie Hesse, who then presented Kelly with a $7,500 check to help accomplish the tour’s goal.


Photo Courtesy: Andrew Jovanovic

Jones has been working with the Make A Splash Tour for six years, and he sees the initiative as near and dear to his heart. At age 5, Jones almost drowned. He knows first-hand that drowning is a silent killer and that it is 100 percent preventable.

Christine Magnuson, 2008 Olympic silver medalist, was not present at the conference, but visited two partner pools on the tour.

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