Five-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Missy Franklin, SafeSplash Brands, the largest franchisor of premium, warm water learn-to-swim schools throughout North America, and the USA Swimming Foundation announced the launch of Ripples to Waves, a program designed to help more than 2,500 kids of all ages from across the country learn to swim each year regardless of their ability to pay for lessons.
Families of Ripples to Waves sponsored children will never see a bill for the cost of their lessons at SafeSplash or Swimtastic swim schools. To do this, Ripples to Waves has created a model that combines the support from USA Swimming Foundation and SafeSplash Brands, its franchise owners, donations from thousands of its existing customers and donations from corporate partners.
“Swimming is not only a life skill fundamental to a child’s development and an essential safety skill, but learning to swim is a defining experience in a child’s life that creates a sense of pride, accomplishment and lasting memories,” said Matthew Lane, CEO of SafeSplash Swim School. “Through Ripples to Waves, we hope to provide thousands more children throughout the country with the best possible swim lessons.”
SafeSplash’s more than 92 locations in the U.S. and 122 locations in North America use a proven, proprietary curriculum in a small, personal class to positively teach children and adults the safety skills and confidence in the water that they will use throughout their lives. SafeSplash’s curriculum is built around teaching methods based on the brand’s experience teaching more than 4.5 million swimming lessons over the course of 19 years.
And as an equity partner and board member, Franklin will continue to play an integral role in helping SafeSplash evolve its innovative curriculum and effective teaching methods for kids.
“I’m extremely passionate about the Ripples to Waves program and creating more opportunities for children to learn to swim and feel confident and happy in the water,” shared Franklin. “This passion is what sparked my partnership with SafeSplash at the start. The good that will be done by the Ripples to Waves program and the USA Swimming Foundation will be long-lasting and is a great example of why I’m proud to be part of this team.”
Franklin also serves as a USA Swimming Foundation Ambassador, working to share the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative which provides the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim – regardless of race, gender or financial circumstances. It is the nation’s pre-eminent learn to swim initiative, with more than 800 local partners nationwide that provide swim lessons and educate children and their families on the importance of learning how to swim.
Since 2007, over 4 million children have learned the critical life-saving skill of swim lessons from Make a Splash providers. Thus far, the USA Swimming Foundation has provided over 4 million dollars in grants to local partners for free and low cost swimming lessons nationwide.
“Working with SafeSplash and Missy Franklin to develop Ripples to Waves is another proud step forward in our path to fulfilling our goal of teaching one million children to swim annually by 2017,” said Debbie Hesse, Executive Director of USA Swimming Foundation.
In the U.S., there are approximately 73.7 million children under 18. Based on a study by the USA Swimming Foundation and University of Memphis, 70 percent of African-Americans, 60 percent of Hispanics/Latinos, and 42 percent of Caucasians have little to no swimming ability – that translates to more than 42 million children who can’t swim. While exact numbers of Americans who can’t afford swim lessons are difficult to determine, approximately 1 in 5 children receive food stamps allowing USA Swimming Foundation to estimate that more than 8 million kids that don’t know how to swim also can’t afford lessons.
Ripples to Waves was designed to fill that gap. Interested parties can apply for lessons atwww.safesplash.com/ripples_to_waves or at www.swimtastic.com/ripples_to_waves beginning November 1, 2016 with lessons beginning at SafeSplash and Swimtastic locations across the U.S. in the first quarter of 2017.
Press release courtesy of USA Swimming.