Several annual water safety programs are heating up, and there’s at least one new event. Here’s a look at what’s going on.
International Water Safety Day
May 15 will be the first International Water Safety Day. Created by the founders of Diversity in Aquatics, Jayson Jackson and Shaun Anderson, USA Swimming diversity consultant, the grass-roots event is an effort to promote educational outreach on water safety and thereby address the global drowning epidemic.
“Aquatic enthusiasts from all ‘swims’ of life have been signing up on the ‘what’s your reach’ section of our Website … ,” Anderson said. “We have even heard of some aquatic directors closing pools on the 15th to send aquatic personnel out into the community. This will be our broader approach in the future … to draw more national awareness to the issue as well as create a day of remembrance for those we have lost to drowning.”
Make A Splash
The Make a Splash campaign is the USA Swimming Foundation’s initiative to bring swimming and water safety education to underserved communities. The campaign now has at least 500 local partners and awarded nearly $300,000 in 2012 grants. This year also marks the 4th Annual Make a Splash Tour with Cullen Jones, sponsored by ConocoPhillips. Jones, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, visited Houston and New Orleans to speak to children and raise awareness about the importance of learning how to swim. He will make four more stops this summer.
National Water Safety Month
National Water Safety Month is a joint effort of a number of industry organizations. For 2012, Lynn Sherr, author and award-winning ABC News correspondent, will be promoting safe swimming as an APSP 2012 Swim Ambassador. She recently published SWIM: Why We Love Water (PublicAffairs, 2012). As of press time, NWSM organizers were expecting participation from other notable personalities as well.
Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives is the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s public information campaign associated with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. Funding has been approved for 2012 and, Kathleen Reilly, CPSC spokeswoman, said, “We expect to continue working ... with partners and others on education and promotional events.” Events are set to include a pre-Memorial Day First Splash event and Pool Safely Day, in July.
Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Awareness Week
This year will be the 8th Annual RWII Prevention Week, the CDC-led effort to inform the public about healthy swimming. The theme for 2012 is education: The use of health communication materials (videos, posters, fact sheets and the like) to teach the public how to prevent RWIIs and drowning. “CDC will enhance its communication outreach ... by developing new educational materials for the public,” spokeswoman Catherine Hough said.
The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson
The 3rd Annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson is set for June 14. Organizers hope to draw 50,000 participants, with the larger goal of promoting swimming lessons. Olympic gold medalists Rowdy Gaines and Janet Evans will return as the official spokespeople for the event. "Participating as a WLSL Host Location provides waterpark, pool and swim school operators with an incredible platform to communicate that water safety is a personal responsibility and drowning is preventable,” event coordinator Beth Root said. As of press time, host location registration was up more than 30 percent over 2011. The deadline to register as a host location is May 20.