Swimming may have just gotten safer in another major city, as Boston, MA announced its SwimSafe Initiative on July 6th. This comes on the heels of Mayor Michelle Wu’s commitment to having the youth of Boston learn how to swim to “safely enjoy the city’s coastline and pools.”
Boston’s plan is similar to one enacted by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which provides free swimming lessons for children 1 ½ to 17 years of age. These lessons are acquired through a lottery system whereas the Boston lessons appear to be on a first come first serve basis.
Mayor Wu’s announcement about the SwimSafe initiative came with the reopening of the Paris Street Pool, which recently underwent a three-year $10.2 million dollar renovation, which included an entire remodeling of the pool.
The SwimSafe Initiative, through a partnership with the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club, will offer 500 free swim lessons to children 3-12 years of age, along with providing 1000 free life jackets at the city’s beaches. These lessons and life jackets are covered by a half-million dollar budget through the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.
Lessons can be found at the following pools with contact information on the SwimSafe Initiative website.
|Boys & Girls Club of Boston’s Yawkey Club of Roxbury||6-8|
|Boys & Girls Club of Boston’s Berkshire Blue Hill Club||6-8|
|YMCA of Greater Boston||3-12|
|Department of Conservation and Recreation||4-12|
Additionally, the plan also aims to expand the number of lifeguards in the city of Boston by providing incentives such as free training and competitive salaries. This aims to combat the nationwide lifeguard shortage, as it is estimated that half of the U.S’s 309,000 public pools are negatively impacted by the shortage.
The plan stems from recent studies that have highlighted disparities in rate of drowning, and also fighting to curb the drowning epidemic. In the United States there are an estimated 4000 drowning deaths per year, which equates to roughly 11 per day. Additionally, drowning in pools is the leading type of drowning in children ages 1-13.