Source: National Swimming Pool Foundation

Colorado Springs, Colorado, July 19, 2013- New York State kicked off its swim season July 9 at Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronxwith an expanded free, learn-to-swim program funded through a collaboration between New York State Parks, American Red Cross, the New York State Department of Health, and National Swimming Pool Foundation® . The pilot program is expected to teach 500 more children to swim this summer season. More than 30 kids enjoyed their first swim lessons in the 50-meter pool. The Commissioner of Parks, Red Cross and Chair of National Swimming Pool Foundation's Step Into Swim™ Committee were there to celebrate the program.

"Learning to swim is an important part of water safety," said Anita Sayed, Ph.D., Chairman of the Step Into Swim Committee. "It's a skill that gets passed to future generations protecting these kids' grandkids, and is the best exercise you can have," she added. "Investing in programs like this where children don't have an opportunity to learn the lifelong skill of swimming makes us proud and thankful for all who gave to the Step Into Swim campaign to create a million more swimmers." New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey added, "We are really committed to teaching swimming to all of the kids in our park system and we are going to start first with our urban pools and areas, neighborhoods that don't have as much opportunity to get to a pool or to have free swim lessons."

The program has been widely successful at Riverbank State Park in Manhattan and is now expanding to Roberto Clement State Park in the Bronx. In addition to teaching more than 500 kids this summer, the partnership has allowed for two sessions per day, morning and evening, ensuring parents have multiple options to get children into swimming lessons. Each swim program is forty-five minutes in duration; all participants are receiving a free swim cap and a Learn to Swim Certificate of Completion for those who complete seven of the ten-day swim classes. The funding and support by all partners also allowed for certification of nine additional Water Safety Instructors, for a total of fifteen, who are conducting the classes twice daily during multiple weeks in July and August. Open enrollment began June 24, with a media event that kicked off the program on July 8. The program will also educate children about water safety and provide the training and knowledge every swimmer should have before getting into the water.

"This is a terrific program that we hope to expand not only with New York State. We hope people will donate to the Step Into Swim campaign so we can expand opportunities like thisto other communities across the country," explained Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO of National Swimming Pool Foundation. "Getting a million new swimmers in the next nine years will require great collaborations like this."

Creating more swimmers prevents drowning, improves people's health by opening a spectrum of aquatic activities, and creates economic growth for the health and family focused pool, spa and aquatics industry. The compelling statistics reinforcing this position are explained in the White Paper published May 2011. "The Step Into Swim Campaign focuses on helping organizations create more swimmers where almost half of Americans fear deep water and almost three quarters reject the idea of owning a pool," reinforced Dr. Lachocki.

Donate today at www.StepIntoSwim.org or by mailing a check to National Swimming Pool Foundation, 4775 Granby Circle, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80919. Industry members, friends and colleagues are also asked to LIKE the Facebook page and share the link with friends. NSPF is matching dollar for dollar donations made to the campaign this year.

About NSPF® The National Swimming Pool Foundation® is a non-profit organization established in 1965, dedicated to encouraging healthier living by increasing aquatic activity through education and research. NSPF seeks to keep pools open by making them safer. NSPF classroom and online educational programs reach about 30,000 professionals each year. The foundation has donated over $4 million since 2003 to fund grants to prevent illness, injury, and drowning, and to demonstrate the health benefits of aquatic activity. In 2012, the Foundation launched Step Into Swim™ Campaign, a 10-year initiative to create 1 million more swimmers. Teaching people to swim is an investment in the future generations of healthier and safer people. The campaign raises funds that are directly given to leading learn-to-swim organizations. Visit www.nspf.org and www.StepIntoSwim.org to learn more and to donate.

Emily Attwood is Managing Editor of Athletic Business.