Hoping to reduce by half the number of people lacking safe water, the Swimming League of Europe and UNICEF have joined forces to raise awareness about clean water practices.

With the help of UNICEF Finland, the messages will be sent through Europe?s young swimmers and national federations. By teaching European children about water issues faced by other children around the world, UNICEF and the league hope to raise awareness and funds to help eradicate waterborne disease.

?Water can be a child?s best friend, yet it can also be lethal when not handled properly,? said Pentti Kotoaro, executive director of UNICEF Finland. ?What better way to raise awareness of the importance of safe water and sanitation for children than through young swimmers??

The partners hope to encourage European swimmers to advocate against poor water quality, and for aquatic celebrities to join the cause. In recognition of the partnership, the league and the Finnish Swimming Federation dedicated the European Short Course Swimming Championships to UNICEF and safe water in December.

UNICEF estimates that approximately 4,000 children under age 5 die every day due to water-borne illnesses. About 1 billion children have no access to clean water worldwide. The volunteer-funded organization has been working for 60 years to help children survive, providing vaccinations in developing countries, supporting child health and nutrition, basic education, clean water and sanitation, and protection against violence, exploitation and AIDS.