Committed to reducing the number of children who don’t know how to swim, preventing drownings and introducing them to a life-long sport, San Antonio Sports officials were joined by San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, members of the W.A.T.C.H. Coalition (Water Awareness Through Community Help) and representatives from a broad coalition of swim providers to kick off San Antonio Sports’ VIVA SWIM For Life, presented by University Health System in conjunction with USA Swimming, at Northside Swim Center on April “Pool’s” Day.
San Antonio is hosting four major swimming events in 2015 at the Northside Swim Center, including USA Swimming’s Phillips 66 National Championships and Speedo Jr. National Championships. To celebrate the sport of swimming while also reducing the number of children who don’t know how to swim by increasing access to swimming pools and lessons, San Antonio Sports created VIVA SWIM For Life presented by University Health System in conjunction with USA Swimming.
Approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S. More than one in five fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14, according to the CDC. Roughly 70% of African-American, 60% of Hispanic/Latino and 40% of Anglo children cannot swim (USA Swimming Foundation). Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1-4 years (Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2009).
“Knowing how to swim can save your life,” said Russ Bookbinder, President and CEO of San Antonio Sports. “We’re all bound to find ourselves near water at one time or another, whether it’s a river, lake or pool. VIVA SWIM connects children and their families to swim lessons taught by qualified instructors at public and private pools.”
“Consistent and close parental/adult supervision is the number one thing that can be done to prevent drownings,” says Dr. Lillian Liao, Director of Pediatric Trauma at University Hospital. The tragedy is that drownings do not have to happen and can be prevented by simple steps.”
Some of these prevention strategies are:
· Teach your child how to swim by enrolling them in a swimming class
· Never leave your child alone while in water
· Actively supervise your child around water
· Bath tub seats, water wings, inflatable toys do not replace adult supervision or personal flotation devices
· Swimming pools should have layers of protection – deadbolts on exit doors from the house/backyard gates, fencing with self-latching gates around pools and pool alarms
· Parents/caregivers should learn CPR
· Parents/caregivers should learn how to swim as well, if they don’t know how to swim
The VIVA SWIM web site (www.SanAntonioSports.org/VIVASWIM) lists organizations and pools throughout San Antonio that offer swim lessons. Providers determine class schedules and costs. Each provider is listed by location and area in the city so that anyone interested in learning to swim can find a place convenient to him. Almost every VIVA SWIM pool location can be reached conveniently through public transportation provided by VIA. To find out how to get there on the bus, visit VIAinfo.net or call VIA Customer Information at (210) 362-2020. Limited transportation assistance may also be available on a case-by-case basis. Inquiries should be made with swim lesson providers.
After completing lessons, participants receive a certificate, which also provides an opportunity for them to receive a medal recognizing their accomplishment from an Olympian at the Nationwide U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship, April 25 or Phillips 66 National Championships, August 6-10.
"San Antonio is one of swimming's top metropolitan areas and VIVA Swim is an important next step to create a long-lasting impact within multicultural communities,” said USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus. “Learn to swim initiatives like VIVA Swim and USA Swimming Foundation's Make a Splash are significant in teaching children critical life-saving swimming skills. It's an exciting time for swimming in San Antonio, with this summer's Phillips 66 National Championships and Speedo Junior National Championships, and our Olympic Team Training Camp next July."
"Because I had access to a pool, I fell in love with the water. Because I had a great coach I learned proper technique. Because I had such a fun and supportive family and community, I had peace of mind to try my best every day,” says five-time Olympic medalist Josh Davis, a San Antonio native. “These factors provided a perfect environment for me to be the best I could be and go on to win gold medals in the Olympic Games. But just as important, I now swim for my health and plan to keep swimming my whole life. VIVA SWIM is providing the foundation of facilities, fundamentals and fun for the next generation of champions and life-long swimmers."
VIVA SWIM is supported by many generous sponsors and community partners. Program sponsors include presenting sponsor University Health System and USA Swimming, VIA, Humana, Northside ISD, US Masters Swimming, and H-E-B. Facility partners include Boys & Girls Clubs, Love to Swim and Tumble School, North East ISD, Northside ISD Aquatics, City of San Antonio Parks & Recreation (SAPAR), San Antonio Swim Academy/Gold’s Gym, YMCA and YWCA. Underwriters of swim lessons in select SAPAR pools include Ancira on behalf of The Brighton School, Humana, Robert Ober & Associates, SAGE Advisors, SeaWorld San Antonio, and Security Service Federal Credit Union. Media partners include Fox 29, The CW 35 and News 4 San Antonio, KENS 5, Time Warner Cable, Univision, Cox Media Group, Telemundo and iHeart Media. Partners in the April Pools Day announcement are the W.A.T.C.H. Coalitionmembers listed below.
MEDIA NOTE: To download VIVA SWIM video messages from program champions San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor and Olympic silver medalist and San Antonio native Jimmy Feigen, please visit http://sanantoniosports.org/vivaswim/vivaswim.zip. These videos will also be available on the VIVA SWIM website.
To learn more about VIVA SWIM For Life and the 2015 summer swim championships, visit SanAntonioSports.org/vivaswim or call 210-820-2100.
About San Antonio Sports
San Antonio Sports is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to transform our community through the power of sport. San Antonio Sports bids on and hosts premier sporting events such as NCAA® championships, which have generated a local economic impact of more than $525 million. San Antonio Sports kids programs, including our i play! afterschool program, the Community Olympic Development Program, University Health System Go!Kids Challenge™ and Kids Rock marathon training program, annually touch the lives of more than 150,000 children in San Antonio through sports training and fitness programs. Additionally, San Antonio Sports serves as a catalyst for the development of quality recreational and athletic facilities in our community, including SPARKs. To learn more, visit SanAntonioSports.org
W.A.T.C.H. Coalition partners:
American Red Cross
Any Baby Can of San Antonio
Bexar County Child Fatality Review Team
Bexar County Criminal District Attorney’s Office
Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Metro San Antonio Safe Kids Coalition
Methodist Health Care System
San Antonio Emergency Nurses Association
San Antonio Fire Department
San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC)
San Antonio Parks & Recreation
San Antonio Police Department
Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council
University Health System
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio – Trauma Department
Voices for Children of San Antonio
YMCA Greater San Antonio