USA Swimming Foundation Begins Ninth-Annual Make a Splash Tour

Photo Courtesy: USA Swimming Foundation

In response to an alarming epidemic where drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children under 14, the USA Swimming Foundation will embark on its ninth-annual Make a Splash Tour presented by Phillips 66 to save lives through swim lessons. Swim lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent.

The USA Swimming Foundation provides the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim – regardless of race, gender or financial circumstances. With more than 850 ‘Make a Splash’ local providers across the country, the USA Swimming Foundation has provided swim lessons for 4.9 million children nationwide since 2007 with free and reduced-cost swim lessons. The USA Swimming Foundation has set a goal to provide at least 1 million children with swim lessons in 2017 through its local partner network.

“My parents made an immediate decision to enroll me in swim lessons when I nearly drowned at the age of five,” said Cullen Jones, two-time Olympic gold medalist, USA Swimming Foundation Ambassador and the second African-American swimmer to win Olympic gold. “This is important to me because drowning rates are highest among minorities and we have a solution – it’s swim lessons. The USA Swimming Foundation offers children of all backgrounds the opportunity and access to swim lessons.”

A five-city Make a Splash Tour presented by Phillips 66 throughout May and June utilizes Olympic medalists to educate children, parents, communities and civic leaders on the importance of learning to swim. The 2017 tour consists of visits to the following cities:

  • Houston, Texas: May 12 & 13, 2017 with Olympians Simone Manuel, Cullen Jones and Rowdy Gaines and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
  • Los Angeles, California: May 24, 2017 with Olympians Missy Franklin and Rowdy Gaines
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: June 8, 2017 with Olympians Cullen Jones and Rowdy Gaines
  • Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: June 12, 2017 with Olympians Cullen Jones and Rowdy Gaines and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

“Learning to swim changed the course of my life forever. Today, it’s extremely humbling to be an inspiration to the future generation of swimmers,” says USA Swimming Foundation Ambassador Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual swimming event. “The USA Swimming Foundation has made it their mission to offer children in the U.S. 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 consists of in-water swim lesson clinics, meetings with local community leaders and swim lesson providers, as well as parents and residents. It also encourages those who can give to donate and provide the opportunity to save children’s lives through the gift of swim lessons. To donate or learn more about the individual city stops, visit: http://www.USASwimmingFoundation.org/.

“Safety is a key value for Phillips 66, and we believe child drownings are preventable,” said Tami Talbert Walker, Phillips 66 Manager, Brand and Creative Media. “We are proud to sponsor the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Tour to keep kids safer around the water this summer.”

Drowning claims the lives of approximately 3,500 people per year, with nearly 25 percent being children under the age of 14. The problem is particularly daunting in ethnically diverse communities, where the drowning rate is almost three times the national average.

“With the support of Phillips 66, the USA Swimming Foundation is able to educate parents and children about the importance of learning to swim,” stated Debbie Hesse, Executive Director of the USA Swimming Foundation. “We see the progress look forward to hitting our goal of one million children taking swim lessons from Make a Splash local partners in 2017 and every year moving forward.”

Alarming Drowning Statistics

  • Approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with nearly 25 percent children younger than 14
  • African-American children drown at a rate nearly 5.5 times higher than their Caucasian peers, as reported by the CDC
  • Drowning is a silent killer—most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time, according to the Present P. Child Drowning study

The Make a Splash Tour has visited more than 44 cities nationwide and the initiative has garnered high-profile media attention, including The TODAY Show, The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, CNN Heroes, The Doctors, HBO Real Sports, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, and the NBC News award-winning piece “A Swimmer’s Mission” with journalist Tamron Hall.

Since 1973, Phillips 66’s contributions have supported the USA Swimming community through National Championships and other international competitions, publication of club development materials, and many additional endeavors. The Make a Splash Tour, which the company has sponsored since the program’s inception in 2009, is a natural extension of its dedication to safety.

About the USA Swimming Foundation

The USA Swimming Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming.  Established in 2004, the Foundation works to strengthen the sport by saving lives and building champions—in the pool and in life. Whether we’re equipping our children with the life-saving skill of learn-to-swim through our Make a Splash initiative, or providing financial support to our heroes on the U.S. National Team, the USA Swimming Foundation aims to provide the wonderful experience of swimming to kids at all levels across the country. To learn more, visit www.usaswimmingfoundation.org.

About the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative

The USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative is a national child-focused water safety campaign, which aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim. Through Make a Splash, the USA Swimming Foundation partners with learn-to-swim providers and water safety advocates across the country to provide swimming lessons and educate children and their families on the importance of learning how to swim. The USA Swimming Foundation has invested millions of dollars to provide grants to qualified Local Partner learn-to-swim programs, to spread national awareness, and to bring together strategic partners to end drowning. To date, 4.9 million children have received the lifesaving gift of swim lessons through the USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash Local Partner network, comprised of more than 850 qualified lesson providers across the nation. To learn more, visit www.usaswimmingfoundation.org/makeasplash.

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with the USA Swimming Foundation. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact newsmaster@swimmingworld.com.

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Author: David Rieder

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David Rieder is the host of Swimming World TV and a staff writer. A contributor to Swimming World since 2009, he has covered NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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