Milwaukee families dive deep into swim safety program

Story & photos by Justin Kern, American Red Cross

With each splash of water in the pool, toddlers Raegan and Jaxon Oliphant-Clark added audible “oohs” and “ahhhs.” These were quickly followed by a stream of questions to their mom, Ashton Clark, on when they’d be able to join their older sister, Mackenzie, in the water.

Jaxon Oliphant Clark excited at pool with mom Ashton Clark Centennial JMAC Jan 2020

Jaxon Oliphant-Clark is wowed by watching his older sister, Mackenzie, swim at a pool in Milwaukee. Ashton Clark, left, said she was grateful for the chance to sign up all three of her kids for Saturday lessons offered in a partnership with Milwaukee Recreation and the American Red Cross.

Saturday, January 18 was the first day of swim lessons for the season at James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC), one of four pools in Milwaukee involved in a deepened water safety partnership with the American Red Cross Centennial Campaign.

Ashton Clark assured Raegan and Jaxon that they’d be “in the pool soon,” after their older sister’s more advanced swim lesson, where she accompanied by her father, Trevor Clark, a few other youth swimmers, and an instructor with the Red Cross.

“We want them in the pool, but with three kids it can be hard, it can be expensive” to get everyone into lessons at once, Ashton Clark said. “When [my husband] saw this online, it was a no-brainer.”

The Centennial Campaign is focused on increasing access to swim safety lessons in areas where there are higher-than-average rates of death by drowning. The campaign initially launched in 2014 – marking a century of American Red Cross safe swimming lessons – and has gone on to surpass its initial targets of teaching 50,000 more people how to swim at 50 select cities in the U.S.

Claudia Delgadillo trains floating Aniyah Callaway Centennial JMAC Jan 2020

Milwaukee Recreation instructor Claudia Delgadillo works with Aniyah Callaway, 6, to feel comfortable in the water during a recent lesson at James Madison Academic Campus.

The recent lessons in Milwaukee were the first in the state of Wisconsin under the Centennial Campaign banner, with a target of reducing Milwaukee’s heightened rates of drowning deaths. Milwaukee Recreation, a longtime partner in water safety and instruction, identified four pools in Milwaukee Public Schools where the reduced-price lessons – $5 per person, child or adult – opened the potential for more families to gain life-saving swim capability. In the first few days of registration, program participation nearly quadrupled at those four pools and even additional lessons filled up. (New lessons for all swim programs, including an extension of the Centennial Campaign, will be introduced again by Milwaukee Recreation in spring 2020. Sign up and find out more here.)

Back at JMAC’s pool on Saturday, parents and guardians braved snowy streets from the previous evening’s storm to bring their children to the kick-off of lessons. One refrain among adults was appreciation for the chance to have children learn to swim at a young age, something they didn’t have.

Shay Fike, of Milwaukee, signed up her daughter, Larissa Hudson, 8 (pictured with arms raised, below.) for her first swim lessons last year on the general safety advice of their pediatrician. Fike said she didn’t learn to swim until high school, so she was grateful for daughter “to have the skill” earlier in life.

“You never know when it’ll happen, when you’ll need it,” Fike said.

Larissa Hudson swims Claudia Delgadillo trains Centennial JMAC Jan 2020

Tiffany Ware-Callaway adjusted the red swim cap on the head of her daughter, Aniyah Callaway, 6. As she talked through the importance of feeling safe in the water, Aniyah listened attentively. Then, she fired off a few of her pool favorites.

“I like the slides and jumping in, yelling ‘cannonball!,’” she said before taking in a big gulp of air and bulging out her cheeks.

Click here to find a swimming safety lesson near you.

 

New National Swim Program at Four Milwaukee Pools Focuses on Affordability and Access to Life-Saving Skills

American Red Cross and Milwaukee Recreation Aquatics partner to create ‘ecosystem of water safety’ for children and adults with Centennial Campaign

[MILWAUKEE, Wisc., Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019] In an expansion of a national multi-year campaign to reduce drownings and increase access to water safety skills, the Milwaukee Recreation Aquatics program through Milwaukee Public Schools has joined the American Red Cross Aquatics Centennial Campaign.

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A student swims in Milwaukee pools during a summer safety lesson.

“We’re partnering with Red Cross aquatics training providers like Milwaukee Recreation Aquatics to create an ecosystem of water safety in communities where there are high numbers of drownings or drowning rates that are higher than the national average,” said Mark Thomas, Regional CEO and Southeast Wisconsin Chapter Executive, American Red Cross. “To families, this means having access to affordable life-saving swim lessons and water safety training in and near their communities.”

The Centennial Campaign will bring $5 swim lessons to resident and non-resident children and adults at four select Milwaukee Recreation school pools in the city:

  • James Madison Academic Campus (8135 W. Florist Ave.)
  • North Division High School (1011 W. Center St.)
  • Milwaukee High School of the Arts (2300 W. Highland Ave.)
  • Vincent High School (7501 W. Granville Road)

“Milwaukee Recreation is proud to be a part of the Centennial Campaign. The partnership will allow the Milwaukee community access to learn-to-swim programs at locations that have historically struggled with both poverty and drowning rates. We are excited to offer affordable, quality swim lessons, water safety education and lifeguard training to more students than we ever have before,” said Nicole Jacobson, Aquatics Supervisor with Milwaukee Recreation.

Registration is open starting Tuesday, Dec. 10 and available through the Milwaukee Recreation website [click here] and by-mail program.

Aquatics Centennial Campaign by the Numbers

The Red Cross campaign began in 2014 in recognition of 100 years of Red Cross swimming safety education. Due to the positive response, the campaign is expanding beyond the initial 50 programs.

Through the end of 2018, national campaign milestones include:

  • 81,288 sets of swim lessons in 93 communities and 197 aquatic facilities in 23 states
  • 839 lifeguards certified and 1,896 junior lifeguards trained
  • 768 Water Safety and Basic Swim instructors certified
  • 12,388 parents and caregivers armed with lifesaving water-safety knowledge and skills

Media contact on Centennial Swim program: Justin Kern (414) 242-6806 Justin.Kern@redcross.org

American Red Cross Announces New Learn-to-Swim Program Pricing

The American Red Cross is announcing a new Learn-to-Swim program pricing structure for aquatic providers.

This price adjustment and new package offering, which goes into effect June 1, is in response to feedback received by the Red Cross from discussions and research conducted with aquatic providers over the past six months.

The package includes a $350 annual fee per facility with 100 Learn-to-Swim student learning fees, certificates, banners, posters and promotional items. The Red Cross will offer providers that conduct Red Cross Lifeguarding courses a $300 annual fee with 150 initial Learn-to-Swim enrollments and certificates. Additional student learning fees with certificates for both packages will be available for only $1 each.

“The adjusted pricing should enable our partners to continue to provide Red Cross Learn-to-Swim programs,” said Steve Glockenmeier, vice president, Preparedness and Health and Safety Services, at the Red Cross. “We look forward to strengthening relationships with our existing aquatic partners and forging new ones.”

The 2012 swim season pricing package contains incentives for facilities to become true partners of the Red Cross by offering aquatics and other training courses in their communities. Those providers with a high volume Learn-to-Swim enrollment base (e.g., 1,000 or more) that offer other Red Cross training programs will also be eligible for additional discounts and partnership opportunities. National Recreation and Park Association members will receive a 10 percent discount on aquatic printed and web-based training materials.

Red Cross representatives will be contacting aquatic providers to explain the new pricing package, to discuss how the system will work and to answer any questions they may have. These representatives will work with providers to ensure that they can continue to offer Red Cross programs and to explore scholarship opportunities for underprivileged communities.

The Red Cross is committed to increasing water safety awareness and decreasing the number of drownings by making training courses available to even more people across the country. Countless lives have been saved because providers offer Red Cross programs in their communities. People can learn more about Red Cross aquatic programs by visiting redcross.org/swimming.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org

Families Planning Water Activities this Summer, but Two in Ten Lack Good Swimming Skills

New American Red Cross survey reinforces need for water safety as nearly 80 percent of Americans plan to engage in water-related activities this summer.

Two in ten people planning to swim, boat or fish this summer cannot swim well, according to a new national survey by the American Red Cross.

Nearly 8 in 10 households (78 percent) are planning at least one water-related recreational activity this summer such as swimming, boating and fishing. However, 21 percent described their swimming skills as fair, poor or nonexistent – including three percent unable to swim at all, the Red Cross survey found.

“Learning how to swim and maintaining constant supervision of those in or near the water are crucial elements of water safety,” said Dr. Peter Wernicki, chair, Aquatics Subcommittee of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. “This Memorial Day, as we head into the summer season, we urge families to make water safety a priority.”

Sadly, each year drownings occur, yet many could have been prevented:

  • One-third of the survey respondents (32 percent) mistakenly believe that having a small child wear a flotation device is safer than providing arm’s-reach supervision.
  • One in five (18 percent) of adults are unsure what to do if they are caught in a strong current.
  • Nearly two in five (38 percent) recalled an experience in which someone in deep water needed help.

The Red Cross recommends designating at least one adult to solely be responsible for watching those in and around the water – even if a lifeguard is present. Adults should be in the water with inexperienced swimmers and remain within arm’s reach of them.

This “arm’s-reach supervision” is safer than putting water wings or floaties on a small child, as these items are not designed to keep a child’s face out of the water and can leak, slip off and provide a false sense of security.

Children should not go near or enter the water without the permission and supervision of an adult. Those who own a home pool should secure it with appropriate barriers and install pool and gate alarms.

If caught in a rip current, people should swim parallel to shore until they are out of the current and they can safely make it to shore. However, 32 percent said they weren’t confident that they could actually do it.

Most adults – 80 percent – knew that throwing a rope or something that floats would be the best way to help someone struggling in deep water rather than going in after them.

Red Cross Aquatics Training

The Red Cross has been a leader in aquatics training for more than 95 years and has developed a comprehensive program starting with Parent and Child Aquatics (6 months to about 5 years old) through lessons for adults. Participants learn swimming skills with a strong emphasis on drowning prevention and water safety.

Water safety tips and information can be found on redcross.org, and people can contact their local Red Cross to find out where Learn-to-Swim programs are offered.

For those who own pools and hot tubs, the Red Cross has a Home Pool Essentials™: Maintenance and Safety online safety course that teaches the fundamentals of creating and maintaining a safe environment.

The Red Cross is also part of the planned 2011 World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on Tuesday, June 14, at 11:00 a.m. EDT at waterparks, community pools and aquatic facilities around the globe. At many locations, there is no cost to participate in this event, and more details can be found at www.worldslargestswimminglesson.org.

 

Survey details: Telephone survey of 1,085 adults U.S. adults 18 years and older on April 7-11, 2011, conducted by ORC International.  Margin of error is +/- 3.0 percent at the 95% confidence level. Polling included total sample of 175 African-American adults, with 82 included through a second wave of telephone interviews. Where appropriate, comparison values from a March 2009 poll have been included: Telephone survey of  1,002 U.S. Adults 18 years and older on March 20-23, 2009, conducted by CARAVAN® Opinion Research Corporation.  Margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent at the 95% confidence level.

 

About the American Red Cross:

 

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.