By Tim Mertz, Sr. Director, Collegiate & Community Recreation
May is National Water Safety Month and if you plan to go swimming or enjoy the water this season, you’re in good company. (1) According to the U.S. Census Bureau, swimming is the fourth most popular recreational activity in the United States for adults and the most popular recreational activity for children and teens. (2)
Americans swim millions of times each year in oceans, lakes, rivers and pools—with more than 309,000 public swimming pools in the U.S.—and most people have a safe and healthy time enjoying the water. (3)
At HealthFitness, we believe that National Water Safety Month is an important time to send an essential safety reminder at the start of the busy summer swim season and that is learning to swim is vitally important in the prevention of accidental drowning and development of lifelong skill.
Consider the facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: (4)
The good news?
- 10 people die from unintentional drowning each day
- One in five fatal drowning victims are younger than 14
- Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.
Formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent. (4)
At HealthFitness, we know the importance of water safety. We manage 16 aquatic facilities nationwide and our staff of aquatics professionals
teach hundreds of safety, educational, fitness based and instructional aquatic classes each week.
We deliver everything from hiring and training aquatic staff and swim instructors, managing the facility and providing engaging programming to reach our campus and community clients.
Our youth and adult instructional swim offerings often includes:
- Beginner (intro to swim, stroke technique)
- Intermediate (fundamental skills)
- Advanced (efficient freestyle, starts and turns)
- Women’s Only
- Private Swim Lessons
- Lifeguard Training
Here are three powerful examples of how we help our community and college recreation clients keep their members safe in the water.
Providing a service to all ages
Our team of 60 HealthFitness professionals at Cornerstone Aquatics Center in West Hartford, Conn., serve and engage thousands of families throughout the area. The Aquatics Center
features two different pools at two temperatures to meet the needs of the community. Cornerstone is an attractive option for families because very few recreation centers in the area have a swimming pool. Its membership is diverse—from kids to young adults to seniors.
As a result, Cornerstone gears its aquatics programming to meet their needs, including swimming lessons, competitive swimming and diving, water fitness classes, lap swimming, open swim and water walking. The aquatics program enables the Center to provide a valuable community service, including certifying more than 100 lifeguards!
Saving lives with swimming lessons
A municipal aquatic and fitness center owned by the city of Bethel, Alaska and operated by HealthFitness professionals, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Fitness Center (YKFC)
serves an extremely diverse population.
With the area’s first swimming pool and a variety of aquatics programming to meet the community's vital needs, YKFC provides a valuable service to a remote region of the state, just 40 miles off the coast of the Bering Sea.
Bethel is located on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, where its water sources present a local hazard. Water safety techniques are integral to Bethel's community, as was made more apparent from 1990 to 2006, when drowning rates were five times higher
than the rest of Alaska.
Enter the diverse and adaptable HealthFitness programming, which turned this underused fitness facility into a community asset. As the only fitness and recreation center in the surrounding area, YKFC implements water safety education programming and outreach. Its swimming pool and aquatics programming provides key resources for teaching community residents swimming and water safety techniques. Swimming lessons—from youth to adult—are currently full.
A college graduate requirement
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MIT views swimming as a lifelong skill. As a result, undergraduates must take—and pass—a swim test that is part of the physical education requirement in order to graduate. The swim test requirement was implemented in the late 1940s, and is one of the many milestones MIT students will achieve prior to graduating.
Each year, the HealthFitness team at MIT,
in partnership with Physical Education, administer hundreds of swim tests over the course of several days at the beginning of each academic year. Inexperienced swimmers can sign up for a beginner’s class if they can’t swim and the HealthFitness staff coordinates the swim requirements.
When it comes to administering the swim test, our instructors recognize there is no room for errors, yet strive to make each and every student feel comfortable. Swimming is a life-saving skill and a form of exercise that MIT Students can embrace their entire lives.
to learn more about our aquatics programming for your community
1. Pool and Hot Tub Alliance http://apsp.org/nwsm/
2. U.S. Census Bureau Statistical abstract of the United States: 2012. Arts, recreation, and travel: Participation in selected sports activities 2009
3. Pool and Hot Tub Alliance: https://www.nspf.org/
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html and https://www.usaswimmingfoundation.org/