Responding to months of criticism over increased learn-to-swim
fees, the American Red Cross announced Tuesday it will
significantly reduce those costs. The new pricing includes two
tiers, and incentives to offer additional Red Cross training.
Starting June 1 (March 1 for those who wish to opt in early), Red
Cross learn-to-swim program providers who offer the
organization’s lifeguard training course will be charged an
annual fee of $300 per pool property, which covers up to 150 swim
lesson students. Additional students will be priced at $1 per
For operations that do not offer the lifeguard training, the annual
fee is $350 per pool property, which covers up to 100 students.
Those providers would still be charged $1 for additional students
beyond what the annual fee covers.
A pool property is consider a single facility whether it has one
pool or multiple pools, said Steve Glockenmeier, vice president of
product development, Red Cross Preparedness Health and Safety
The annual fee for both tier 1 and 2 will include learn-to-swim
certificates and program marketing materials such as banners and
posters (with an estimated value of at least $50). Organizations
that offer other Red Cross programs also will have the opportunity
to receive additional discounts through special incentives and
credit. The price reduction announcement coincides with the launch
of the updated Red Cross lifeguard training program.
“We want to be able to provide the best program at a price
that will enable everyone to offer it,” Glockenmeier said.
Any facility that can’t afford the new fees may apply for
learn-to-swim scholarships. “We remain fully committed to
reaching the underserved areas,” Glockenmeier added.
This new pricing replaces the existing policy of $5 per swim
student, which caused significant frustration among Red Cross
program providers when it was announced abruptly in June 2011. For
many facilities, the announcement came in the midst of established
budget cycles. Prior to that, local providers were being charged a
range of prices, or nothing at all. The goal was to create a
uniform system that would recoup the costs of development,
But many agencies have been unable to meet what amounted to a
significant cost increase, and providers have been struggling to
find alternative options, or ways to work with the Red Cross.
“We understood that for some, that was a big
adjustment,” said Glockenmeier. “Some were paying
nothing at all ... budgetary wise it was a very large
Still, the Red Cross has not been immune to the financial
challenges of the recession or increasing costs. That made it
necessary to change prices, said officials, including Glockenmeier
and Connie Harvey, Red Cross manager of aquatics programs. Fees
will go toward supporting continued development and growth of
aquatics programming. That covers developments such as the expanded
use of online platforms, a feature of the new lifeguard training
“We want to make sure … there’s reasonable
expectation that you’re getting the same experience
[nationwide] and that materials are reflective of the times
we’re living in,” Harvey said.
The revised pricing was developed based on feedback from operators
through local representatives, meetings and a December 2011 online
survey, sent out in partnership with the National Recreation and