LOS ANGELES (May 28, 2015) – The LA84 Foundation and Big 5 Sporting Goods are teaming up to make a big splash this summer to benefit 20,000 children throughout the Southland. The two organizations are partnering on the Summer Swim program, which will provide swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming instruction at free or reduced rates at 100 public pools throughout Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.
Now in its 30th year, Summer Swim ensures that children, ages 7-17, have the opportunity to be pool safe. This is critically important when considering that drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death among American children and young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Certain segments of the population are also at greater risk: African American children, for example, are five times more likely to be pool drowning victims than the rest of the population, according to a 2014 study by the CDC.
Originally endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games, LA84 is providing more than $400,000 in grants to fund swim lessons and organized aquatic sports across Southern California. The organization has continually funded Summer Swim dating back to its founding in 1985.
This year, Big 5 Sporting Goods is expanding the visibility of the program and making swimming more accessible for low-income families. The El Segundo-based company is helping Summer Swim participants in underserved communities by offering goggles for $5, as well as steep discounts on other swim gear. Big 5 will also offer free merchandise at all Summer Swim events that run through August of this year.
“We’re thankful to Big 5 for raising the profile of our efforts this year to keep our children safe in the water and help them to discover a love for aquatic sports,” said LA84 Foundation President Anita L. DeFrantz. “LA84 is proud to offer the opportunity to develop this critical skill to thousands of local youth each year, especially to those who would not otherwise have this opportunity. With this level of support, we are literally saving lives.”
According to research published in the Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine journal, participation in formal swim lessons can reduce the likelihood of drowning by 88 percent.
“Big 5 is overjoyed for the opportunity to be affiliated with the LA84 Foundation through their Summer Swim Program,” said Rick Gridley, Public Affairs Director for Big 5 Sporting Goods. “We recognize the importance of providing basic swimming instruction to kids, and it is a privilege to support the Summer Swim Program that the LA84 Foundation has established in Southern California.”
The summer aquatics season officially begins on June 1, with four culminating events taking place in August: the Swim Festival, Synchronized Swimming Festival, Diving Festival, and Water Polo Festival. Parents are encouraged to register for swim classes in their areas. A full list of the 100 participating pool facilities, including addresses and phone numbers, is available here: 2015 Summer Swim Program Pool Facilities.
“I highly encourage parents to sign up their kids for lessons,” said Veronica Flores, a Summer Swim graduate who now serves as a lifeguard. “Summer Swim gives everyone the chance to be confident in the water—and have fun too.”
Forty-eight participating pools are located in the City of Los Angeles, spanning from Sylmar to San Pedro. “It’s gratifying to see that the Olympic Games continue to offer a positive legacy to a new generation— this money is going directly to public pools in our community and to the families that need it most,” said City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks General Manager Michael Shull.
For more information, please visit LA84 Foundation Summer Aquatics.
About the LA84 Foundation
The LA84 Foundation was established to manage Southern California’s share of the surplus from the successful 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The Foundation received an endowment of $93 million. Since it began operations in 1985, it has invested more than $225 million back into the communities that supported the Games, supporting more than 3 million youth in the eight Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Its headquarters is the historic Britt House near downtown Los Angeles where it houses the world’s premier sports library and meeting facilities. The Foundation provides grants to youth sports organizations, manages programs, including a coaching education program, and convenes numerous forums for the exploration of the most pressing issues in sport. For more information, please visit la84.org.
About Big 5 Sporting Goods
Founded in 1955, Big 5 is one of America’s top retailers of name brand sporting goods and accessories. Operating over 430 stores in 11 western states, Big 5 provides a full-line product offering in a traditional sporting goods store format that averages approximately 11,000 square feet. Big 5’s product mix includes athletic shoes, apparel and accessories, as well as a broad selection of outdoor and athletic equipment for team sports, fitness, camping, hunting, fishing, tennis, golf, snowboarding and roller sports. For more information, please visit www.big5.com.