This summer, it’s time to make a splash.
The LA84 Foundation is partnering with the USA Swimming Foundation in 2017 to save lives through swim lessons while raising awareness to reduce the risk of child drownings. Announced Wednesday at a press conference with USA Swimming Foundation ambassadors Missy Franklin and Rowdy Gaines at the LA84 Foundation/John C. Argue Swim Stadium, the program 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. In Los Angeles, it is LA84 running the youth premier water safety program.
LA84’s Learn to Swim program will reach 15,000 Southern California youth this summer, continuing to provide swim lessons and water sports programs in underserved areas at a reduced cost. Over 150,000 Southern California youth have learned how to swim through the program. The program is part of LA84’s Summer Splash program, which was established in 1986 and provides basic instruction and competitive opportunities at over 100 Los Angeles County pools and in four aquatic sports: swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming.
“Learning to swim can save your life.” said LA84 President and CEO Renata Simril. “Learning to swim can also improve the quality of your life – your health, your fitness, your mood. LA84 strongly supports aquatic programs and venues.”
Children younger than 14 account for 25 percent of drowning deaths in the United States, while African American and Latino youth drowning at a much higher rate than their Caucasian peers. LA84 consistently aims to fund and assist underserved areas and communities with its programming, while also serving as a connector between organizations and the youth of Southern California. The USA Swimming Foundation presented a $2,500 donation to the swimming programs of the City of El Centro, an LA84 grantee.
Franklin and Gaines were joined at the stadium by Simril, five-time USA Water Polo Olympian Tony Azevedo, four-time gold medalist swimmer John Naber and more than 100 youth participating in the Learn To Swim program. Franklin donned a swimsuit to join the young athletes in the pool following the announcement, hopping into the historic pool. “Being in the water is where you can be whoever you want to be,” Franklin said.
Also enacted was a “Promise Fence” featuring personal messages from Los Angeles area parents and children who promise to learn to swim this summer. The fence will be displayed at the Wilmington YMCA for the remainder of May in honor of National Water Safety Month.
“My mom was never comfortable around water and she enrolled me in swim lessons at a very young age because she didn’t want to pass down that fear to me,” said Franklin. “She knew that it would be an important life skill for me, which is why I’m committed to helping the USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash initiative educate parents and reduce the risk of drowning for their children by getting more kids in swim lessons.”
The LA84 Summer Splash Program begins on June 1, and concludes with its Swim & Synchro Festival on August 12 and Water Polo & Dive Festival on August 19.
For more information, reach out to LA84 Program Officer Nolan Ortiz at NOrtiz@la84.org.